Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

If you or your child doesn't have any signs or symptoms of heart trouble, the doctor may suspect a problem only if he or she hears abnormal heart sounds during a routine exam. Although many people have abnormal heart sounds, such as a heart murmur, they're usually not cause for concern. However, your doctor or your child's doctor will likely refer you to a doctor who specializes in treating heart conditions (cardiologist) to diagnose the cause of the abnormal heart sounds.

Because appointments can be brief, and there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to arrive well prepared. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.

What you can do

  • Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. At the time you make the appointment, be sure to ask if you need to do anything in advance, such as restrict your or your child's diet.
  • Write down any signs and symptoms you or your child is experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
  • Make a list of any medications, vitamins or supplements that you or your child is taking.
  • Request that a copy of previous medical records be forwarded to your current doctor, if you're changing doctors.
  • Write down questions to ask the doctor.

Your time with the doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your time together. For Ebstein's anomaly, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What's the most likely cause of my symptoms?
  • What kinds of tests do I need? Do these tests require any special preparation?
  • I feel OK; do I even need treatment?
  • What treatments are available, and which do you recommend?
  • What types of side effects can I expect from treatment?
  • Are there any alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
  • I have other health conditions. How can I best manage these conditions together?
  • Are there any activity restrictions that I or my child needs to follow?
  • Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing me?
  • Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me?
  • Can you recommend any websites for more information on my condition?

In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment at any time that you don't understand something.

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:

  • When did you or your child first begin experiencing symptoms?
  • Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
  • Does anything seem to improve your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
  • If you or your child has already been diagnosed with Ebstein's anomaly, when and where was the diagnosis made?
  • Has your child had any surgery or ever been hospitalized?
  • What medications are you or your child taking?
Apr. 25, 2013