Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

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:

  • 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?
Aug. 11, 2011