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Talking to Your Doctor About Arrhythmias (Heart Rhythm Disturbances)

Main Page | Types of Arrhythmias | Cause | Risk Factors | Symptoms | Diagnosis | Treatment | Screening | Reducing Your Risk | Talking to Your Doctor | Resource Guide

You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors and/or experience with arrhythmias. By talking openly and regularly with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.

General Tips for Gathering Information

Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your doctor:

  • Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
  • Write out your questions ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get, and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
  • Don't be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know.

Specific Questions to Ask Your Doctor

About Your Arrhythmia

  • Is this arrhythmia harmless, or is it a warning that a life-threatening event is pending?
  • How did I develop this arrhythmia?
  • How many people who have this type of arrhythmia die of sudden cardiac arrest?
  • Is there anything I can do to make my heartbeat normal?

About Your Risk of Sudden Death Due to Arrhythmia

  • How likely is it that this arrhythmia will lead to sudden death?
  • How rapidly do we need to act to prevent sudden death?
  • What tools should I have with me in case of sudden death?

About Treatment Options

  • What are my treatment options?
  • Are there any alterative options?
  • What are the possible side effects of each treatment?
  • How long will treatment last?
  • Will I have to take medication for the rest of my life?

About Lifestyle Changes

  • What activities are hazardous for me until this is under control?
  • Are there any activities that I will never be able to do again?
  • Are there any lifestyle changes I can make to help prevent the arrhythmia from recurring?
  • Should I carry something with me so people know I have an arrhythmia?

About Your Outlook

  • What chance is there that I can return to my former lifestyle after treatment?
  • Do I need to prepare my estate and family for the possibility of my sudden death?

References:

Heart-to-heart. Talking to your doctor. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/ConsumerHealthCare/Heart-to-heart-Talking-to-Your-Doctor_UCM_323844_Article.jsp. Updated June 20, 2013. Accessed March 21, 2014.

Preparing for medical visits. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/CardiacRehab/Preparing-for-Medical-Visits_UCM_307053_Article.jsp. Updated March 22, 2013. Accessed March 21, 2014.

Talking to your doctor. National Institutes of Health website. Available at: http://nih.gov/clearcommunication/talktoyourdoctor.htm. Accessed March 21, 2014.

Tips for talking to your doctor. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/healthcare-management/working-with-your-doctor/tips-for-talking-to-your-doctor.html. Updated November 2010. Accessed March 21, 2014.



Last reviewed December 2013 by Michael J. Fucci, DO

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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