Don’t Lie to Your Doctor

According to a General Electric study exploring the communication channels between patients and providers, about 28% of Americans say they sometimes lie or omit facts when speaking with their doctor.  Doctors think the number is higher.

According to Dr. Nieca Goldberg, director of the Women’s Heart Program at New York University: ”There are a variety of reasons why patients withhold information. Sometimes they are ashamed. Sometimes they can’t afford the medications. Sometimes they feel like they might upset the doctor.”

Dr. Alfred Bove, past president of the American College of Cardiology, offers another explanation: ”I think a lot of patients won’t tell you details or symptoms because they are not aware of what the important details to share are. So they deny or ignore it and the next thing they just drop over.”

February is American Heart Month, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released some estimates on the number of Americans at risk for heart disease. According to the CDC, 68 million Americans are taking medications to lower high blood pressure and hopefully prevent coronary artery disease and heart attacks.

While keeping secrets from your doctor is ill advised, withholding information from your cardiologist can be fatal. A recent article at noted five secrets you should not keep from your heart doctor.

  • If you are taking vitamins or supplements: Cardiologists warn that certain dietary supplements can have a dangerous reaction with medications for heart disease. The Journal of the American College of Cardiology lists more than two dozen herbal products cardiovascular disease patients should avoid.
  • If you have undergone tests from other doctors: According to Dr. Richard Stein, a national spokesperson for the American Heart Association. ”Your goal walking out is to get the best health care — not to make the doctor feel good. If you’ve had a blood test, EKG, echocardiogram or angiogram, Stein says to keep your own patient file and bring it with you to your appointment. It’s not fair to expect a doctor to understand the seriousness of your condition if they don’t have all of the information.” To help you maximize your next visit to the cardiologist, CardioSmart has a useful checklist to help patients prepare.
  • If you have skipped your medications: Dr. Goldberg adds: “Patients often lie about taking blood pressure or cholesterol medication. ”You don’t want to accidentally be given a prescription for a higher dose, when you’re not even taking the lower dose.”
  • If you are going through hard times:  Dr. Bove offers: ”When you’re under stress you have extra adrenaline that can stimulate the heart to skip beats and have palpitations.”  Patients who have endured serious life trauma such as death, job termination, or divorce may have elevated blood pressure.
  • If you haven’t really stuck to your diet:  Dr. Goldberg concludes: “Everyone wants to put their best foot forward, so it’s easy to come in and say you’ve started an exercise program when it really didn’t happen. But just saying you exercised doesn’t improve your cardiovascular health.”