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You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors and/or experience with heart attack. 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.
  • Bring the list of current medications with you.
  • 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 Risk of Developing Heart Disease and Heart Attack

  • Based on my medical history, lifestyle, and family background, am I at risk for a heart attack?
  • How do I best prevent heart disease and heart attack?
  • How do I know if my blood pressure or cholesterol is high?

About Treatment Options

  • What are the risks and benefits of the various methods to reopen the artery?
  • What medications are available to help me?
    • What are the benefits/side effects of these medications?
    • Will these medications interact with other medications, over-the-counter products, or dietary or herbal supplements I am already taking for other conditions?

About Lifestyle Changes

  • How soon after my heart attack can I begin exercising?
    • What type of exercise is best?
    • How much should I be exercising?
    • How do I get started with an exercise program?
  • Do I have to change my diet? If so, how do I go about it?
  • Should I stop drinking alcohol?
  • How can I find help to quit smoking?
  • Do I need to lose weight? If so, how much?
  • How soon after my heart attack is it safe to have sex?

About Your Outlook

  • How do I know if my cholesterol and blood pressure are staying within healthy limits?
  • How often will you monitor my blood pressure and cholesterol levels?
  • How likely am I to have another heart attack?
  • How extensive is the damage to my heart? How will that affect my quality of life?

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 April 16, 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 April 16, 2014.

Talking to your doctor. National Institutes of Health website. Available at: http://nih.gov/clearcommunication/talktoyourdoctor.htm. Accessed April 16, 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 April 16, 2014.



Last reviewed September 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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