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Take Charge of Your Health

The Ohio State University Medical Center encourages you and your loved ones to visit your physician regularly. Don’t wait until you’re in pain to see the doctor. Regular exams and screenings can help detect diseases at their earliest, most treatable stages. 

Be prepared and be an active participant in your office visit. Each visit with your doctor or healthcare provider is an opportunity to make a difference in your health and well-being.

  • Taking a little time to prepare beforehand will help you make the most of your appointment.
  • Write down your questions and concerns. Bring paper and a pen to take notes.
  • Consider keeping a notebook that you take to all your doctors’ appointments so you have all your notes in one place.
  • Make sure you have all your questions answered before you leave or set up another appointment for further discussion.

Avoid episodes of “doorknob syndrome,” which happens at the end of the exam when the physician has his or her hand on the doorknob to leave the room and the patient says, “Oh, by the way…” This happens quite frequently, often because patients are afraid or embarrassed to mention a symptom.

The patient-physician relationship relies on upfront and accurate communication, so be prepared for your visit and be an active participant, not a bystander.

FOUR TIPS for building a better relationship with your doctor:

  1. If you’ll need extra time for discussion, let the office staff know when you make the appointment. Let the doctor know you have questions or concerns, and take the time for a complete discussion.
  2. Let the doctor know all of the medications you take, including over-the-counter and herbal supplements. Some medications or herbs can interact with, and diminish the effectiveness of, other medications. Keep a list of all medications you take and carry it with you at all times.
  3. Make sure you understand what the doctor wants you to do. Ask the doctor or nurse to explain any treatments or procedures until you’re sure you understand. Write them down.
  4. Don’t be shy. Don’t hide parts of your personal or health history out of embarrassment or fear. Your doctor is there to help, and your privacy is always one of his or her key concerns.

What All Those Numbers Mean

Blood Pressure—measures the pressure put on artery walls when your heart beats and between beats.

140/90 mm Hg or above is high
120/80 to 139/89 is prehypertension
Less than 120/80 mm Hg is normal

Cholesterol—know the “good”—HDL, the “bad”—LDL and the "fats”—your triglycerides. The higher your HDL, the lower your chance of heart disease, while the more LDL and triglycerides you have, the greater your chance of heart disease.

Total cholesterol should be less than 200 mg/dL
HDL levels at 50 mg/dL or above are ideal
LDL levels should be below 130 mg/dL (even lower with certain health issues)
Triglycerides should be below 150
Mine: Total: ___HDL:___ LDL:___ Triglycerides____  

Blood Sugar—a measure of how much sugar (glucose) is in your blood. High blood sugar can signal diabetes.

Fasting levels below 100 mg/dL are healthy
Fasting levels between 100 mg/dL and 125 mg/dL are considered prediabetes
Fasting levels of 126 mg/dL or higher typically result in a diabetes diagnosis

Body Mass Index (BMI)—BMI indicates whether or not a person is overweight or obese.
Weight (in pounds) ÷ height² (in inches) X 703 = BMI

19 to 25 indicates a healthy weight
25 to 29.9 is overweight (excluding well-muscled individuals)
30 or higher is considered obese

Waist Circumference—number of inches around your unclothed abdomen, just above the hip bone, can indicate your risk for some diseases like diabetes.

A measurement of less than 35 inches is desirable for a woman and less than 40 inches for a man.

Click here to learn which screenings you should have. Or find a primary care physician at Ohio State.