Preparing for your appointment

If you think you may have an enlarged heart or are worried about your heart disease risk because of your family history, make an appointment with your doctor. If you have heart disease, your doctor may refer you to a heart specialist (cardiologist).

Here's some information to help you prepare for your appointment.

What you can do

  • Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. When you make the appointment, ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as restrict your diet or fast before tests.
  • Write down your symptoms, including ones that may seem unrelated to coronary artery disease.
  • Write down key personal information, including a family history of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure or diabetes, and major stresses or recent life changes.
  • Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements you're taking.
  • Take a family member or friend along, if possible. Someone who accompanies you may remember something you missed or forgot.
  • Write down questions to ask your doctor.

Preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time with your doctor. For heart disease, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What is likely causing my symptoms or condition?
  • What are other possible causes for my symptoms or condition?
  • What tests do I need?
  • What's the best treatment?
  • What foods should I eat or avoid?
  • What's an appropriate level of physical activity?
  • Are there restrictions I should follow?
  • How often should I be screened for heart disease? For example, how often do I need a cholesterol test?
  • I have other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
  • Should I see a specialist?
  • Should my children be screened for this condition?
  • Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing?
  • Are there brochures or other printed materials I can take? What websites do you recommend?

Don't hesitate to ask other questions.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you questions, including:

  • When did your symptoms begin?
  • Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
  • How severe are your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
  • What is your typical diet?
  • Do you drink alcohol? How much?
  • Do you smoke?
  • Are you physically active? How often do you exercise?
  • Have you been diagnosed with other conditions?
  • Do you have a family history of heart disease?
Jan. 21, 2017
References
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  2. What is heart failure? American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartFailure/AboutHeartFailure/What-is-Heart-Failure_UCM_002044_Article.jsp#.WCH1wFUrJ0w. Accessed Nov. 3, 2016.
  3. Cardiomyopathy. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/cm/#. Accessed Nov. 3, 2016.
  4. Colucci WS. Evaluation of the patient with suspected heart failure. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 3, 2016.
  5. Warning signs of a heart attack. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartAttack/WarningSignsofaHeartAttack/Warning-Signs-of-a-Heart-Attack_UCM_002039_Article.jsp#.WCChJVUrJ0w. Accessed Nov. 4, 2016.
  6. Cooper LT. Definition and classification of the cardiomyopathies. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 3, 2016.
  7. Bonow RO, et al., eds. The dilated, restrictive, and infiltrative cardiomyopathies. In: Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2015. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Nov. 5, 2016.
  8. Cardiac procedures and surgeries. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartAttack/PreventionTreatmentofHeartAttack/Cardiac-Procedures-and-Surgeries_UCM_303939_Article.jsp#.WCDYQlUrJ0w. Accessed Nov. 5, 2016.
  9. Lifestyle changes for heart failure. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartFailure/TreatmentOptionsForHeartFailure/Lifestyle-Changes-for-Heart Failure_UCM_306341_Article.jsp#.WCH7KVUrJ0x. Accessed Nov. 6, 2016.
  10. Mankad R (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Nov. 16, 2016.