Preparing for your appointment

The first doctor you see will likely be 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).

What you can do

You can help prepare for your appointment by taking these steps:

  • Write down any symptoms you're experiencing. Be sure to note how long you've had particular symptoms. If you've had similar symptoms that have come and gone in the past be sure to include that information.
  • Make a list of your key medical information. Your doctor will need to know about any other recent health problems you've had and the names of all 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. Someone who accompanies you can help remember what your doctor says.

It's also important to write down any questions you might have before you get to your appointment. For endocarditis, some basic questions you might want 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 will probably ask you many questions, including:

  • What are your symptoms?
  • When did your symptoms start? Did they come on suddenly or more gradually?
  • 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 — such as parents, siblings or children — have a history of heart disease?