The Boy Scout motto of always being prepared also holds true when you find yourself scheduled to see a cardiologist for a consultation: Having a list of questions to ask your cardiologist in hand helps you make the most of your limited time with the physician.
All your questions will be answered and you will leave knowing what to expect next if you are prepared for your appointment. To make the most of your time with the doctor, bring a list of any medications you take, and be prepared to discuss any family history of heart disease or conditions.
To better understand the reason for your visit, ask the following questions:
1. What kind of heart condition do I have?
Find out the name of the condition, and any other relevant information you will need to know about handling it in the future.
2. Do I need any further tests?
Your cardiologist may refer you for additional tests beyond the initial examination. The type of test will depend on your condition, but could include EKG, echocardiogram, a stress test, a chest X-ray or a CT scan.
3. What type of lifestyle changes do I need to make?
Depending on your current lifestyle habits, your doctor may encourage you to lose weight, lower stress or quit smoking to reduce cardiovascular complications.
4. Should I change any of the medications I am currently taking?
Be sure to tell the doctor what you take, what the medications are for and the dosage. This may impact what he or she prescribes for your condition, or you may need to modify what you are currently taking. The most important thing is to be sure that any new medication will not negatively impact what you are already taking.
5. What are the risks associated with my condition?
Every health condition poses certain risks, so find out which ones pertain to your specific condition and what you can do to minimize those risks.
6. Is there a possibility that my condition can significantly improve with medication and lifestyle changes?
This question will help you learn the severity of your condition. More serious conditions typically take longer to show signs of improvement, while other more minor conditions may show improvement by simply changing your diet and increasing your exercise regimen.
7. What can I expect for future visits?
Find out how frequently you need to be seen by your cardiologist to monitor your condition. Find out what types of procedures or exams will need to be performed at future visits and how long the appointments will take.
8. Can I get a second opinion?
If you are unhappy with the diagnosis or do not believe you need the types of treatment the cardiologist is suggesting, you can always ask to be seen by another doctor to evaluate the condition and suggest treatment.
9. Should I need a procedure done, will you be performing it? If not, who will be?
As with any type of medical procedure, you need to know who will be handling it and if it is not the doctor who you see at office visits, find out if you can meet the performing doctor before the procedure. This tends to ease patients’ minds and make them feel more comfortable if the doctor is not a complete stranger.
As you go through your appointment, other questions for your cardiologist will come to mind. Be sure to bring with you a pad of paper and a pen to take notes. Many times these appointments tend to happen quickly, so it is difficult to remember everything that was said. Don’t leave anything to chance by not remembering instructions given by the doctor—write it all down.
Think you may have a heart condition and need more information? To see one of our board-certified cardiologists, call 419-660-6946.