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 who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of 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 is likely causing my symptoms?
- Are there any other possible causes for these symptoms?
- What kinds of tests do I need? Will I need to be hospitalized for testing?
- What treatment approach do you recommend?
- How soon after I begin treatment can I expect improvement in my symptoms?
- What are the possible side effects of the treatments you're prescribing?
- If the first treatment isn't effective, what will we try next?
- What is the risk of these symptoms recurring?
- Am I at risk of long-term complications from this condition?
- How often will I need follow-up for this condition?
- Will I need to take preventive antibiotics for certain medical or dental procedures?
- Do I need to follow any restrictions?
- Should I see a specialist?
- I have other medical conditions. How can I best manage them too?
- What websites do you recommend?
Don't hesitate to ask any other questions.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, including:
Aug. 11, 2011
- 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?
- Infective endocarditis. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/CongenitalHeartDefects/TheImpactofCongenitalHeartDefects/Infective-Endocarditis_UCM_307108_Article.jsp. Accessed June 6, 2011.
- Endocarditis. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/endo/endo_all.html. Accessed June 19, 2009.
- Sexton DJ. Diagnostic approach to infective endocarditis. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed June 2, 2011.
- Sexton DJ. Epidemiology, risk factors and microbiology of infective endocarditis. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed June 2, 2011.
- Spelman D, et al. Complications and outcome of infective endocarditis. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed June 2, 2011.
- Sexton DJ. Antimicrobial therapy of native valve endocarditis. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed June 2, 2011.
- Schick EC. Surgery for native valve endocarditis. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed June 2, 2011.
- Delahaye F. Is early surgery beneficial in infective endocarditis? A systematic review. Archives of Cardiovascular Disease. 2011:104:35.
- Burton MJ, et al. Infective endocarditis prevention: Update on 2007 guidelines. The American Journal of Medicine. 2007;11:484.