Whether you first see your family doctor or get emergency care, you'll likely be referred to a doctor trained in heart conditions (cardiologist) for one or more appointments for a complete diagnostic assessment.
If possible, bring along a family member or friend who can give some moral support and help you keep track of new information. Because there may be a lot to discuss, it will be helpful to prepare as much as possible.
What you can do
Make a list ahead of time that you can share with your doctor. Your list should include:
- Symptoms you've experienced, including any that may seem unrelated to your heart
- Key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes
- Medications, including vitamins or supplements
- Questions to ask your doctor
List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. Basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What is likely causing my fast heart rate?
- What kinds of tests do I need?
- What's the most appropriate treatment?
- What kind of risks does my heart condition create?
- How will we monitor my heart?
- How often will I need follow-up appointments?
- How will other conditions I have or medications I take affect my heart problem?
- Do I need to restrict my activities?
- 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.
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:
May 06, 2014
- When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
- How often have you had episodes of a fast heartbeat?
- How long have the episodes lasted?
- Does anything, such as exercise, stress or caffeine, seem to trigger or worsen episodes?
- Do you smoke?
- How much alcohol or caffeine do you use?
- Do you use recreational drugs?
- Are you being treated for high blood pressure, high cholesterol or other conditions that may affect your circulatory system?
- What medications do you take for these conditions, and do you take them as prescribed?
- Ganz LI. Sinus tachycardia. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Dec. 27, 2013.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/content.aspx?bookid=331§ionid=40727006. Accessed Dec. 27, 2013.
- Stone CK, et al. Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Emergency Medicine. 7th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2011. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/content.aspx?bookid=385§ionid=40357251&jumpsectionID=40365877. Accessed Dec. 27, 2013.
- What is an arrhythmia? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/arr/. Accessed Dec. 27, 2013.
- Overview of arrhythmias. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/cardiovascular_disorders/arrhythmias_and_conduction_disorders/overview_of_arrhythmias.html?qt=arrhythmia&alt=sh. Accessed Jan. 6, 2014.
- What is catheter ablation? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/ablation/. Accessed Jan. 7, 2014.
- Prevention & treatment of arrhythmia. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Arrhythmia/PreventionTreatmentofArrhythmia/Prevention-Treatment-of-Arrhythmia_UCM_002026_Article.jsp. Accessed Jan. 8, 2014.
- Riggin EA. Decision Support System. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dec. 5, 2013.
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