Friday, December 21, 2007
Getting a Physical?
If you are going in for your annual physical exam, these are often scheduled for the morning, in order to check blood sugar and what not. Means you can't eat anything, though the nurse will tell you that black coffee is okay.
Actually, it's not. Skip it.
A lot of people have what is called "whitecoat hypertension." What this means is, your blood pressure goes up because you are in the doctor's office. At home it might be normal -- say, 120/80, but as soon as the nurse asks you to roll up your sleeve, it can shoot up ten points, bam, just like that.
So, 130/80 or even 130/90 is not great, but still marginally within the green zone.
Drink two or three cups of strong coffee, and the caffeine in it, a stimulant, can cause your BP to rise ten points, too. Some authorities say it won't, but mine does, and when I was working in the clinic, I saw it often enough to know that more than a small percentage of people will have the same reaction.
Now, this is transient and not dangerous if you have normal blood pressure; however, if you get nervous at the M.D.'s, and if you've had coffee, the combination might drive you over the 140/90 border and into the red zone.
Not dangerous per se, since if you exercise, your BP will shoot a lot higher than that while you are huffing an puffing. But: If they write down that number -- and they will -- and if it is into what is considered high, that will be on your chart forevermore. And the next time you go to get health insurance and they check your records, you will, at the least, get rated for it, and -- if you can get insurance at all -- it will cost more.
And, oh, yeah, if you put a little cream in your coffee and they do a blood sugar check, you might get diagnosed with diabetes because your fasting level is too high. There is sugar in cream, enough to skew the test.
Just so you know ...