Whether you first see your family doctor or get emergency care, you'll likely be referred to a doctor trained in heart conditions (cardiologist) for one or more appointments for a complete diagnostic assessment.
If possible, take along a family member or friend who can give some moral support and help you keep track of new information. Because there may be a lot to discuss, it will be helpful to prepare as much as possible.
What you can do
Make a list ahead of time that you can share with your doctor. Your list should include:
- Symptoms you've experienced, including any that may seem unrelated to your heart
- Key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes
- Medications, including vitamins or supplements that you're taking
- Questions to ask your doctor
List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. Basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What is likely causing my slow heart rate?
- What kinds of tests do I need?
- What's the most appropriate treatment?
- What kind of risks does my heart condition create?
- How will we monitor my heart?
- How often will I need follow-up appointments?
- How will other conditions I have or medications I take affect my heart problem?
- Do I need to restrict my activities?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend visiting?
In addition to the questions you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask additional questions that may come up during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:
May 07, 2014
- When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
- Have you experienced fainting spells in the past?
- Does anything, such as exercise, seem to worsen symptoms?
- Do you smoke?
- Are you being treated for heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or other conditions that may affect your circulatory system?
- What medications do you take for these conditions, and do you take them as prescribed?
- What is an arrhythmia? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/arr/. Accessed Dec. 27, 2013.
- Genz LI. Sinus bradycardia. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Dec. 27, 2013.
- Fuster V, ed. et al. Hurst's The Heart. 13th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2011. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/content.aspx?bookid=376§ionid=40279772&jumpsectionID=40287349. Accessed Dec. 27, 2013.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/content.aspx?bookid=331§ionid=40727005. Accessed Dec. 27, 2013.
- Bradycardia — Slow heart rate. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Arrhythmia/AboutArrhythmia/Bradycardia-Slow-Heart-Rate_UCM_302016_Article.jsp. Accessed Dec. 27, 2013.
- What is an electrocardiogram? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/ekg/. Accessed Jan. 13, 2013.
- Hayes DL. Indications for permanent cardiac pacing. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 13, 2014.
- Prevention & treatment of arrhythmia. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Arrhythmia/PreventionTreatmentofArrhythmia/Prevention-Treatment-of-Arrhythmia_UCM_002026_Article.jsp. Accessed Jan. 8, 2014.
- Riggin EA. Decision Support System. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dec. 5, 2013.