If you think you may have dilated cardiomyopathy or are worried about your risk because of a family history, make an appointment with your family doctor. Eventually, you may be referred to a heart specialist (cardiologist).
Here's information to help you get ready for your appointment.
What you can do
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. When you make the appointment, ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as restrict your diet.
- Write down symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to dilated cardiomyopathy.
- Write down key personal information, including major stresses or recent life changes and a family history of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure or diabetes.
- List all medications, vitamins and supplements you're taking.
- Take a family member or friend along, if possible. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
- Be prepared to discuss your diet and exercise habits. If you don't already follow a diet or exercise routine, talk to your doctor about how to get started.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time with your doctor. For dilated cardiomyopathy, some basic questions include:
- What is likely causing my symptoms or condition?
- What are other possible causes?
- What tests will I need?
- What's the best treatment?
- What are the alternatives to the primary approach you're suggesting?
- How should I change my diet?
- What's an appropriate level of physical activity?
- How often should I be screened?
- Should I tell my family to be screened for dilated cardiomyopathy?
- I have other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
- Are there restrictions that I need to follow?
- Should I see a specialist?
- Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing?
- Are there brochures or other printed materials I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, including:
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- When did your symptoms begin?
- Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
- Do any of your blood relatives have dilated cardiomyopathy or other types of heart disease?
- Cardiomyopathy. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/cm/cm_all.html. Accessed June 18, 2014.
- Weigner M, et al. Causes of dilated cardiomyopathy. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 18, 2014.
- Colucci WS. Evaluation of the patient with heart failure or cardiomyopathy. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 18, 2014.
- Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/Cardiomyopathy/Dilated-Cardiomyopathy_UCM_444187_Article.jsp. Accessed June 18, 2014.
- Dilated cardiomyopathy. American Stroke Association. http://www.strokeassociation.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@hcm/documents/downloadable/ucm_312224.pdf. Accessed June 18, 2014.