If you are experiencing chest pain, you likely will be examined and treated in the emergency room.
If you don't have chest pain but are experiencing other symptoms, or are concerned about your risk of myocardial ischemia, you might be referred to a heart specialist (cardiologist).
What you can do
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions, such as fasting before a blood test.
- Write down your symptoms, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason why you scheduled the appointment.
- Make a list of all your medications, vitamins and supplements.
- Write down your key medical information, including other conditions.
- Write down key personal information, including any recent changes or stressors in your life.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
- Ask a relative or friend to accompany you, to help you remember what the doctor says.
Questions to ask your doctor
- What's the most likely cause of my symptoms?
- What tests do I need? Is there any special preparation for them?
- What kinds of treatments do I need?
- Should I make any lifestyle changes? What would be an appropriate diet and level of activity for me?
- How frequently should I be screened for heart disease?
- I have other health problems. How can I best manage these conditions together?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask other questions during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may leave time to go over points you want to spend more time on. You may be asked:
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- What are your symptoms, and when did they begin?
- How severe are your symptoms? Are they occasional or continuous?
- Does anything improve or worsen your symptoms?
- Do you have a family history of heart disease, high blood pressure or high cholesterol?
- Do you or did you smoke?
- Mann DL, et al. Approach to the patient with chest pain. In: Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2014.
- Podrid PJ. Angina pectoris: Chest pain caused by myocardial ischemia. www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 1, 2015.
- Deedwania PC. Silent myocardial ischemia: Epidemiology and pathogenesis. www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 1, 2015.
- Mann DL, et al. Coronary blood flow and myocardial ischemia. In: Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2014.
- Kannam JP. Stable ischemic heart disease: Overview of care. www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 2, 2015.
- Jhamnani S, et al. Meta-analysis of the effects of lifestyle modifications on coronary and carotid artherosclerotic burden. American Journal of Cardiology. 2015;115:268.
- Sandesara PB, et al. Cardiac rehabilitation and risk reduction: Time to "rebrand and reinvigorate." Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 2015;65:389.
- Goldberger AL. Electrocardiogram in the diagnosis of myocardial ischemia and infarction. www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 1, 2015.
- AskMayoExpert. How is chest pain due to coronary artery spasm diagnosed? Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2015.
- Johnson RJ. Nonpharmacologic prevention and treatment of hypertension. In: Comprehensive Clinical Nephrology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2015. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed May 11, 2015.
- Deedwania PC. Silent myocardial ischemia: Prognosis and therapy. www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 1, 2015.
- Deedwania PC. Silent myocardial ischemia: Diagnosis. www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 1, 2015.
- AskMayoExpert. Which patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) should be considered for angiography and revascularization? Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2014.
- Bope ET, et al. The cardiovascular system. In: Conn's Current Therapy 2015. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2015.
- Simons M, et al. New therapies for angina pectoris. www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed July 6, 2015.