If myocardial ischemia is causing chest pain, you will likely be evaluated in an emergency setting, rather than at a doctor's appointment. If you don't have chest pain but are experiencing other symptoms or are concerned about your risk of myocardial ischemia, make an appointment with your doctor for an evaluation. Your doctor may refer you to a heart specialist (cardiologist).
Because appointments can be brief, it's a good idea to be prepared for your appointment. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. At the time you make the appointment, be sure to ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as restrict your diet. Some blood tests, for example, require that you fast beforehand.
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to myocardial ischemia.
- Write down key personal information, including a family history of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure or diabetes, and any major stresses or recent life changes.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements that you're taking.
- Take a family member or friend along, if possible. Sometimes it can be difficult to recall all the information provided to you during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
- Be prepared to discuss your diet and exercise habits. If you don't already follow a diet or exercise routine, be ready to talk to your doctor about challenges you might face in getting started.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. Some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What's the most likely cause of my symptoms?
- Are there any other possible causes?
- What kinds of tests will I need? Do I need to prepare for these tests?
- What treatments are available and what do you recommend for me?
- Are there foods I need to eat? Are there any foods I need to avoid?
- What's an appropriate level of physical activity?
- 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 these conditions together?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend visiting?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask additional 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 reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:
March 06, 2014
- Do you have a family history of heart disease, high blood pressure or high cholesterol?
- When did you first notice your symptoms?
- Do you use tobacco?
- Do you have diabetes?
- Do you have symptoms all the time, or do they come and go?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
- Does anything seem to make your symptoms worse?
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed Oct. 15, 2013.
- American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartAttack/PreventionTreatmentofHeartAttack/Silent-Ischemia-and-Ischemic-Heart-Disease_UCM_434092_Article.jsp. Accessed Oct. 17, 2013.
- Fihn SD, et al. 2012 ACCF/AHA/ACP/AATS/PCNA/SCAI/STS guideline for the diagnosis and management of patients with stable ischemic heart disease. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 2012;30:e44.
- Podrid PJ. Pathophysiology and clinical presentation of ischemic chest pain. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 15, 2013.
- Fuster V, ed. et al. Hurst's The Heart. 13th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=5. Accessed Oct. 15, 2013.
- What are coronary heart disease risk factors? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hd/printall-index.html. Accessed Oct. 17, 2013.
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