Preparing for your appointment

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, including 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:

  • 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?
July 26, 2017
References
  1. Tintinalli JE, et al. Cardiomyopathies and pericardial disease. In: Tintinalli's Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide. 8th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2016. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com. Accessed May 22, 2017.
  2. Fuster V, et al, eds. Dilated cardiomyopathy. In: Hurst's The Heart. 14th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Education; 2017. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com. Accessed May 22, 2017.
  3. Cardiomyopathy. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/book/export/html/4916. Accessed May 24, 2017.
  4. Dilated cardiomyopathy. American Stroke Association. http://www.strokeassociation.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@hcm/documents/downloadable/ucm_312224.pdf. Accessed May 24, 2017.

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