Whether you first see your family doctor or get emergency care, you'll likely be referred to a heart specialist (cardiologist) for one or more appointments.
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 of ground to cover, 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 best 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?
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:
Feb. 25, 2011
- When did you begin experiencing symptoms?
- How often have you had episodes of a fast heartbeat?
- How long have the episodes lasted?
- Does anything — exercise, stress, caffeine — seem to trigger or worsen episodes?
- Do you have any family history of heart disease?
- Do you have any other health problems?
- What medications are you currently taking, including vitamins and supplements?
- Early TJ, et al. Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome. In: Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2011: Instant Diagnosis and Treatment. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/page.do?sid=1087785533&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05610-6..00032-9--sc29000&isbn=978-0-323-05610-6&type=bookPage§ionEid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05610-6..00032-9--sc29000&uniqId=227936882-3. Accessed Nov. 24, 2010.
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- Symptoms, diagnosis & monitoring of arrhythmia. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Arrhythmia/SymptomsDiagnosisMonitoringofArrhythmia/Symptoms-Diagnosis-Monitoring-of-Arrhythmia_UCM_002025_Article.jsp. Accessed Nov. 24, 2010.
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