Discussing Heart Health With Your Cardiologist
Your cardiologist can do more than treat you after a heart attack or stroke. The doctor can also help you prevent future heart issues. You need to be an active participant in your care, and that requires discussing your heart health with your doctor. Ask the right questions during your next appointment.
Questions to ask a cardiologist
Cardiologists are available to answer patients’ questions. The answers to the questions provide insight into the condition, the risks and the treatment strategy. Patients also learn how to manage the condition at home. Ask these questions at the next visit.
Are any activities off-limits?
Healthy hearts can handle physical activity, even when it is strenuous. Doctors typically encourage patients to engage in aerobic activity to keep the heart healthy and strong. However, people with certain conditions such as blocked arteries might not be good candidates for exercise. Patients should ask the cardiologist if any activities are off-limits.
What symptoms indicate a condition is getting worse?
Cardiologists see patients with various conditions, including heart rhythm problems and leaky valves. When conditions worsen, symptoms appear. The symptoms vary by condition, so it is critical to ask the cardiologist which symptoms mean the condition is getting worse. Understanding the warning signs can save people’s lives. Once symptoms materialize, patients can contact the doctor.
Are lifestyle changes needed?
Healthy lifestyles help people maintain healthy hearts. Many people believe they are living such a lifestyle, only to engage in dangerous behaviors such as eating the wrong foods or failing to get enough sleep. Patients should go over at-home behaviors with cardiologists to find out if any changes need to be made.
What risks are associated with the diagnosis?
Even minor heart conditions have risks. Patients need to know what to expect if the condition stays the same or gets worse. As frightening as it is to learn the risks, it is necessary for understanding the condition. Learning the risks is also a motivation for making changes to improve.
Do medications need to be stopped or changed?
A cardiologist is just one part of a healthcare team. People see primary care doctors and other providers as well. Patients need to bring a list of medications to the cardiologist and ask if any of them can make the condition worse. The doctor might recommend changing medications or modifying the dosage.
Will lifestyle changes and medication improve the condition?
Many conditions can improve with lifestyle changes and medication. A cardiologist can provide a timeline for when patients can expect to see improvement. Mild to moderate conditions improve faster than severe conditions do. Also, some conditions require additional treatment to improve.
Open a dialogue with a cardiologist
Your cardiologist is charged with managing your heart health. As a healthcare provider, your doctor wants you to understand your condition and the treatment plan. Bring these questions along to your next appointment. Take notes if necessary so you can take part in managing your care.
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