Get money-saving tips in your inbox.

Stay on top of personal finance tips from our money experts!

News & Resources

What Not to Do Before a Life Insurance Medical Exam

June 27, 2019
3 mins
A close-up of a woman buckling her helmet

A history of eating greasy burgers every day or chain-smoking. These are things you can't hide in your system (heart, lungs) before a life insurance medical exam. But what about a beer the day before, salty chips, Red Bulls and espresso shots? These you might be able to temporarily hide. And, why should you? So you don’t skew your test results.

The night before a medical exam for your life insurance is important and shouldn’t be taken lightly. While the exam might only take 30 minutes to an hour, what you eat, drink, and do might show up in the results. And, that can determine the premiums you’re charged. So, here are a few things not to do right before your life insurance medical exam.

Avoid skimping on water

Some people avoid drinking water before their exam. But, you should drink plenty of water and have a full glass before your exam. This helps when you take your urine test and you won’t be dehydrated. Dehydration can make it hard for your phlebotomist to find a good vein when they do your bloodwork.

Don’t stress it

Work keeps calling you? Couldn't find parking? Doctor taking too long? Don't stress it. To avoid a faster heart rate and elevated blood pressure, stay calm before your exam. A healthy resting heart rate is 60-100 beats per minute (BPM). Want to find your resting heart rate? If it's over 100, it might be stress (hypertension) or tachycardia. Under 100, it might be bradycardia, sometimes found in sedentary senior citizens.

  • Sit still for a few minutes.
  • Put your second and third fingertips on the wrist of your opposite hand (palm up).
  • Count the number of beats for 15 seconds and multiply that by four.

Don’t eat the night before a fasting medical exam

If your instructions indicate that you should fast, don’t eat anything. The blood test will show an elevated glucose or triglyceride level. If you forgot and ate something, tell the medical technician.

Avoid coca tea drinks

Coca tea or mate de coca can give a false positive indicating there’s cocaine in your system. Why? It’s made from raw or dried leaves from coca plants used to make cocaine. Coca tea is used to help with: But, it will metabolize in the body in a similar manner to cocaine. So skip the tea.

  • Reducing altitude sickness.
  • Indigestion
  • Fatigue
  • Diabetes
  • Frequent colds.

Pass on the poppy seed bagels

Another no-no is poppy seed bagels. And, not because those little seeds get caught in your teeth. Certain types of poppy seeds can lead to a positive opiate test result. Poppy seeds (Papaver somniferum) are oilseeds that come from the opium poppy. They have trace amounts of opiates but are not used to make opium. So, skip the poppy seed and “everything” bagels.

Don’t eat salty snacks, smoke, or drink beer

Avoid salty foods, cigarettes, and alcohol right before your test to improve your exam results. How?

  • Added salt causes you to retain water and raises your blood pressure. It will also skew your kidney function test.
  • With cigarettes, it's hard to hide nicotine levels if you smoke regularly. But, avoid smoking at least one hour before your exam so you don’t raise your blood pressure.
  • Skip on the alcohol 24-hours before the exam to avoid it showing up in your blood test. Cut it for one week to stabilize your weight.

Avoid “crushing it” at the gym

While a good workout feels good, avoid this before your exam. Why? It can increase the protein levels in your urine temporarily. Increased protein is indicative of kidney problems.

Skip the Red Bull, caffeine, and all-nighters at work

Losing sleep and taking stimulants can increase your heart rate and blood pressure. Tips:

  • Get a good night’s sleep.
  • Leave early for your medical exam so your heart rate won’t be elevated when you arrive.
  • Avoid caffeine about 1-hour before your exam. That includes taking Excedrin which has caffeine in it.

Avoid the nervous jitters

For some, an elevated heart rate comes from anxiety over seeing a doctor. Tips:

  • Arrive early for your exam.
  • Use meditation techniques, gentle stretching or breathing exercises to stay calm.
  • Play soothing music in your headphones. Or, read a magazine.
  • And, when you see the doctor think of how much money you’ll save on your life insurance.

Tips to prepare you for your life insurance medical exam

There are a few tips that can help you prepare for your exam:

  • Schedule the exam in the morning when you’re least stressed.
  • Fast before your exam but drink plenty of water.
  • Get plenty of rest and avoid exercise, stress, caffeine, alcohol and salty foods.
  • Don’t take decongestants 24-hours before your exam.
  • Bring your medical records
  • Don't forget your list of medications and a photo ID.
  • Stay calm and relax.

Starting a new policy and not sure how much life insurance you should get? Use our Life Insurance Calculator to see how much coverage you'll need for your specific financial needs.

Ready to find the best life insurance rates?

It helps to prepare before a life insurance medical exam. By avoiding excess caffeine, salt, alcohol and cigarettes you won’t throw off the test findings. And, you can score a better premium.

Also, compare affordable life insurance quotes from Canada's best insurance providers.


The RATESDOTCA editorial team are experienced writers focused on sharing stories and bringing you the latest news in insurance and personal finance. Our goal is to provide Canadians with the information and resources they need to make better insurance and financial decisions.

Latest life insurance articles

10 Life insurance myths debunked
Life insurance is for someone older or has kids, right? Wrong. Let’s debunk life insurance myths and learn why everyone needs some form of coverage.
6 mins read
Do you need life insurance? A primer for Canadians
Life insurance isn’t a one-size-fits all solution. But if you have dependents, it can be an important financial safety net for those you love.
7 mins read
Why life insurance should be part of estate planning for new parents
Life insurance is one of the best ways new parents can protect their family and help loved ones in the event of your unexpected death.
5 mins read

Subscribe to our newsletter

Stay on top of our latest offers, relevant news and tips!

Thanks for joining!

You'll be hearing from us shortly - stay tuned.