NIH-funded scientists are working to improve the side effects of general anesthesia, which knocks people unconscious for surgery and sometimes leaves them confused or forgetful afterward. It’s the same drug that made ether-a swig of alcohol biting on a stick-a success, and it makes lifesaving operations possible. It dampens pain, numbs a large area and keeps people from moving during surgery.
1. Get Your Blood Pressure Checked
Most doctors and nurses routinely take blood pressure at appointments, but it’s a good idea to monitor it at home as well. It helps your doctor see what your blood pressure is like outside their office, where nerves often cause a spike. Experts recommend measuring twice a day for two weeks (ignoring the first reading as it’s often inaccurate) and bringing the results with you to appointments. It’s also important to measure in both arms — one arm may have a higher systolic reading than the other due to arm-to-arm differences in blood volume. Before you measure, empty your bladder and avoid caffeine, exercise, smoking and eating for 30 minutes. Also, sit with your feet flat on the ground and rest the cuff on bare skin at chest height.
2. Get Your Blood Sugar Checked
General means “as a whole.” For example, you might ask someone what they think of the school’s general policies. You might also describe something as being in general disarray. If you have diabetes, it is important to get your blood sugar checked regularly. The best way to do this is by using a blood sugar meter, which pricks the tip of your finger or forearm with a small needle (or lancet device on some meters). The results are then read by the meter and recorded in a logbook. Bring the meter and logbook to all doctor visits. This will help your provider see patterns in your blood sugar levels.
3. Get Your Blood Pressure Checked Again
It’s important to get your blood pressure checked regularly — at home or when you visit the doctor. Keeping a record of your readings is helpful, too, especially when it comes to tracking your progress and seeing how your lifestyle changes or treatments are impacting your pressure. Experts recommend waiting 30 minutes before taking your blood pressure and avoiding smoke, exercise, caffeinated beverages and food before measuring. Also, be sure to measure your pressure in both arms (the systolic number may be higher in the right arm) since the difference between arm to arm can vary by 5 points or more. When you take your readings, empty your bladder and put on a non-elastic arm cuff. Take your monitor with you to appointments so you can share a record with your health care professional.