Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Your high blood pressure may be discovered during a routine physical. At that point, your primary care doctor may order more tests, or refer you to a doctor who specializes in treating whatever the suspected underlying cause of your high blood pressure may be. For example, if your doctor believes that a kidney problem is causing your high blood pressure, you'll likely be referred to a doctor who specializes in treating kidney disorders (nephrologist).

Because appointments can be brief, and there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to arrive well prepared. 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 for a certain number of hours before your appointment.
  • Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
  • Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
  • Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements that you're taking, as well as information on the dose you take for each.
  • Write down questions to ask your doctor.

Your time with your doctor may be limited, so preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your time together. For secondary hypertension, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What do you think is causing my high blood pressure?
  • What kinds of tests do I need? Do these tests require any special preparation?
  • Is my high blood pressure temporary or long lasting?
  • What treatments are available for the cause of my high blood pressure and which do you recommend?
  • What types of side effects can I expect from treatment?
  • I have other health conditions. How can I best manage these conditions together?
  • Are there any dietary or activity restrictions that I need to follow?
  • What types of lifestyle changes can I make on my own that might help lower my blood pressure?
  • Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing for me?
  • How often do I need to come back to have my blood pressure checked?
  • Do I need to check my blood pressure at home? If so, how often?
  • Which type of blood pressure machine is best? Can you help me learn how to use it correctly?
  • 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 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:

  • Has anyone in your family ever been diagnosed with high blood pressure?
  • If yes, do you know if there was an underlying reason for the high blood pressure? For example, does your relative have diabetes or kidney problems?
  • Have you experienced any unusual symptoms?
  • How much salt is in your diet?
  • Has your body weight changed recently?
  • If you were ever pregnant, was your blood pressure elevated during pregnancy?
Mar. 15, 2013