You never have more than two drinks in a single evening. You eat vegetables all the time. You work out five times a week for at least 30 minutes.
Admit it, you fudge things a bit when you talk with your doctor.
I know I’m supposed to eat five helpings of fruits and vegetables a day. And I often try to eat something green. My wife tries to get me to eat green things too.
But usually my good intentions are waylaid by my snack tooth or the fact that I’d rather have a second burger than a salad.
Does lettuce on a turkey burger count as a helping of veggies?
So, sitting in my doctor’s waiting room each year I try to fill out the health questionnaire honestly. Three to four helpings of fruit and veggies a day seems like a reasonable answer.
My doctor probably knows I’m hedging by the upward spiral of my weight anyway.
But Grace Keenan, an internist and integrative health expert in Northern Virginia, doesn’t view what most of us do as benign.
“The truth is that lying to your doctor is dangerous,” Keenan says. It “puts us at risk of misdiagnosis and unnecessary treatments that can … cause irreparable harm.”
It’s not so healthy for the doctor-patient relationship either, says Daniel J. Glunk, a Williamsport internist and immediate past president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society.
“The physician needs to know as much as possible to give you a good recommendation,” he said, “and you should expect good and complete information so you can make the best decisions about your own care.”
While it is up to each of us to navigate our relationship with our doctor, my new blog, CheckUp, will keep you up to date on what is going on in health and medicine across the region.
I’ll tell you about the latest research and the newest treatments, and arm you with tools to be a more informed patient.
Last week, for example, the medicine desk here at The Inquirer published a special section on heart health with our sister paper, The Daily News. You can find that at www.philly.com/heart.
The report has stories on the latest advances in the treatment of heart disease. You can also find a database to help you navigate your heart care options.
The database enables you to compare hospitals based on the number of heart surgeries performed — a measure that can indicate quality because the more practiced hospital tends to perform better. You can view death rates for heart attack patients and learn whether other patients would recommend the hospital.
That’s the kind of information you won’t find anywhere else. Going forward CheckUp will provide you access to interactive datasets of area hospitals on everything from where to get different kinds of cancer care to which hospitals do the most c-sections.