How to Talk to Your Doctor About Your Heart Concerns
Staying on top of your heart health involves knowing your specific health risk factors and how to manage them, particularly as you get older. So the next time you schedule a health checkup, be prepared and make a few notes about your heart concerns.
Here’s a practical guide to help you get the most out of your 15-minute doctor visit.1
How to prepare for your medical appointment
Take the stress out of your next medical appointment and make a list of your heart concerns. These could include:
- Existing medical conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and arrhythmia or irregular heart beat.
- Lifestyle risk factors like unhealthy weight, smoking, stress, and lack of exercise.
- Hereditary risk factors and a family history of heart disease.
- Age, menopause, and other hormonal changes.
What to bring to your doctor visit
During your appointment, your doctor will want to update your patient profile information. You can speed things along with a short list of all your current medications, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements.
It’s also a good idea to bring along copies of previous test results or reports of procedures like an ECG or angiogram.
To help you prepare for your medical appointment, you can also download the PACE Guide Sheet from the American Heart & Stroke Association. This will help you to remember which concerns to raise during your visit with the doctor:
P = Provide information about how you feel.
A = Ask questions if you don't have enough information.
C = Clarify what you hear.
E = Express any concerns you may have.
Questions regarding tests, diagnosis, treatment, medication
Before your visit, it will help if you make a list of your questions regarding your symptoms, tests and procedures, medicines, and alternative treatments.
Here is a list of some of the questions you might ask:
- How serious is my diagnosis? What are the symptoms? What is the prognosis?
- How will it affect my normal everyday life?
- Are there any tests or procedures I need? What are the risks? Please explain.
- Do I need to take medication? For how long? What are the side effects?
- What other forms of treatment are recommended, like diet and exercise?
- Where else can I get information and support?
After your appointment and follow up
After your doctor visit, make sure you book any necessary follow-up appointments and get the correct contact information you need in case you have any further questions or concerns.
If you’re starting new medication or treatment plan, make a note of any changes or side effects you experience. There are many options available, so if one medication or treatment doesn’t work, your doctor needs to know so they can prescribe an appropriate plan for your health.
With a little preparation and paperwork, you can remove the stress from medical visits and receive the precise information you need to keep your heart healthy.
- Blog Contributor