You're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or an emergency room physician. Or, when you call to set up an appointment, you may be referred to a doctor trained in diagnosing and treating heart conditions (cardiologist).
Here's some information to help you prepare for your appointment.
What you can do
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, and for how long. Also note if you've had similar symptoms that have come and gone in the past.
- Make a list of your key medical information, including other recent health problems you've had and the names of any prescription and over-the-counter medications and supplements you're taking.
- Find a family member or friend who can come with you to the appointment, if possible. Someone who accompanies you can help remember what the doctor says.
- Write down the questions you want to ask your doctor.
For endocarditis, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What's the most likely cause of my symptoms?
- What kinds of tests do I need? How do I need to prepare for the tests?
- What treatment do you recommend?
- How soon after I begin treatment will I start to feel better?
- What are the possible side effects?
- Am I at risk of long-term complications from this condition? Will it come back?
- How often will I need follow-up for this condition?
- Do I need to take preventive antibiotics for certain medical or dental procedures?
- I have other medical conditions. How can I best manage these conditions together?
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, including:
June 14, 2014
- What are your symptoms?
- Did your symptoms come on gradually or suddenly? When?
- Have you had similar symptoms in the past?
- Are you having difficulty breathing?
- Have you recently had an infection?
- Have you recently had a fever?
- Have you recently had any medical or dental procedures that used needles or catheters?
- Have you ever used intravenous drugs?
- Have you recently lost weight without trying?
- Have you been diagnosed with any other medical conditions, especially heart murmurs?
- Do any of your first-degree relatives — parents, siblings or children — have a history of heart disease?
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed April 11, 2014.
- Endocarditis. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/endo/. Accessed April 11, 2014.
- Fuster V, ed., et al. Hurst's The Heart. 13th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=5. Accessed April 11, 2014.
- Sexton DJ, et al. Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of infective endocarditis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 11, 2014.