Preparing for your appointment

If you have a congenital heart defect, make an appointment with your doctor for follow-up care, even if you haven't developed complications. You'll likely be referred to a doctor trained in diagnosing and treating heart conditions (cardiologist).

Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.

What you can do

When you make the appointment, ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as restrict your diet or fast. Make a list of:

  • Your symptoms, if any, including any that may seem unrelated to congenital heart disease, and when they began
  • Key personal information, including a family history of heart defects and treatment you received as a child
  • All medications, vitamins or other supplements you take and their doses
  • Questions to ask your doctor

Take a family member or friend with you, if possible, to help you remember the information you get. For congenital heart disease, questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What's the most likely cause of my symptoms?
  • What tests do I need?
  • What treatments are available? Which do you recommend for me?
  • Are there diet or activity restrictions I need to follow?
  • How often should I be screened for complications from my heart defect?
  • I have other health conditions. How can I best manage these conditions together?
  • Are there brochures or other printed material that I can have? What websites do you recommend?

Don't hesitate to ask other questions.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you questions, including:

  • Do your symptoms come and go, or do you have them all the time?
  • How severe are your symptoms?
  • Does anything seem to improve your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, worsens your symptoms?
  • What's your lifestyle like, including your diet, tobacco use, physical activity and alcohol use?