*Here’s what you need to know before your next doctor’s appointment. This intelligence comes from interviews with leading doctors, clinics and nurse, their advice on what to do to get the best care.
To start, chill out for 5 minutes before a blood pressure reading. Relaxing for 5 minutes before your blood pressure is taken guarantees you won't have an artificially high reading. Because if your reading is too high, you may be prescribed unnecessary medication. That’s according to cardiologist Sarah Samaan. For example, rushing into your doctor’s office after a traffic-jammed drive can raise your systolic pressure by as many as 20 points! So sit quietly, flip through a good book, check your Facebook news and calm down in the waiting room. It's also a good idea to skip that coffee run on the way to the doctor. Caffeine can cause a temporary blood pressure spike and give you a false reading.
Next, if you need a mammogram, book your appointment for the week after your period. Dr. Barbara Jaeger is the director of mammography at American Radiology Services in Baltimore and she says it’ll be less painful then. Also, lay off caffeine for a week before the test, it increases tenderness, too. Skip deodorant, powders, creams, and perfume on the day of the mammogram because those can interfere with the reading.
We’ve talked about this one before: Wipe off your nail polish before a skin cancer screening. 5% of all melanomas occur under nails. But if you're wearing polish, your doctor won't see the streaks or pigmentation that can signal a problem.
Lastly, if you’re getting a cholesterol test, skip those fatty pasta dinners a few days beforehand. Eating high-starch or fatty meals in the 3 days leading up to a lipid test can raise triglycerides and affect the readings.