Preparing for your appointment

If you've had chest pains or other symptoms of heart disease, your primary care provider will likely refer you to a doctor trained in treating disorders of the heart and circulatory system (cardiologist).

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

What you can do

When you make the appointment, ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as fasting before a specific test. Make a list of:

  • Your symptoms, including any that seem unrelated to the reason for your appointment
  • Key personal information, including major stresses; recent life changes; your and your family's medical history, especially history of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol
  • All medications, vitamins or other supplements you take, including the doses
  • Questions to ask your doctor

Take a family member or friend along, if possible, to help you remember the information you're given.

For small vessel disease, basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What's likely causing my symptoms?
  • Other than the most likely cause, what are other possible causes for my symptoms?
  • What tests do I need?
  • Is my condition likely temporary or chronic?
  • What's the best course of action?
  • What are the alternatives to the primary approach you're suggesting?
  • I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
  • Are there restrictions I need to follow?
  • Should I see a specialist?
  • Are there brochures or other printed material I can have? 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, such as:

  • When did your symptoms begin?
  • Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
  • How severe are your symptoms? Have your symptoms worsened?
  • Do your symptoms worsen when you're active?
  • Does anything make your symptoms better?