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What to Ask Your Cardiologist

Make sure you’re ready for your appointment

A Veteran talking to his VA health care provider Not only is heart disease the leading cause of death, but it's also preventable and treatable. Your cardiologist may be your most important physician.

Whether you regularly see a cardiologist or you're just starting to, it's important to make the most of your appointment. If it’s a new experience for you, it may be confusing. To take full advantage of your appointment, come prepared by writing down specific questions before your visit.

Before your appointment

One of the most important things you can do before your appointment is to write down your main reason for seeing a cardiologist. Is it because of specific symptoms or test findings, due to concern on the part of your primary care provider, or is it a second opinion? Either way, make sure you have the following things in front of you when you meet your doctor:

  • A list of all symptoms. Record when they happened and what makes them worse or better

  • Your doctors' notes, found in your Blue Button report

  • A recent recording of your blood pressure and heart rate at home. Bring the results with you to your appointment

  • Vital signs like blood pressure and heart rate are always changing. It’s important to check these at various times during the day and over the course of several days or weeks if possible. This way, your doctor gets the most complete information at the time of your visit

  • A printed list of your medications, including over-the-counter medications and vitamins. Bring the list with you to your appointment

  • A list of your risk factors. Your family history is significant, as is any history of smoking. Knowing this information will save time during your appointment and will allow the cardiologist to focus on your treatment plan

During your appointment

Take a notebook and pen to record the doctor’s answers to any questions. It helps when you need to remember things, especially if you don’t have a family member present. The following questions may help you with everyday appointment situations.

If you need any tests:

  • What is the test for?

  • What are the risks of the test, and the benefits of having the information provided by the test?

  • What does the test involve?

  • When will I get the results?

If you are given a diagnosis:

  • What is the diagnosis?

  • What does it mean for you or your family?

If treatment is suggested:

  • Why do I need this treatment?

  • What are the possible risks and benefits of this treatment?

  • Are there any alternatives?

If a medication is recommended:

  • Are there any side effects?

  • How often do I take it?

  • Do I need to change my diet or be careful of over-the-counter medication interactions?

After your appointment

Before you leave, make sure you ask your doctor about any follow-up. You must practice the plan created for you. You can always reach out to your doctor using Secure Messaging (sign in required) if you have any questions.

Please vote in our unscientific poll. All responses are anonymous.

Do you usually take prepared questions with you to a doctor’s appointment?