Perhaps you’ve been referred to a cardiologist by your GP or you’ve been experiencing symptoms that require the attention of a specialist. Either way, it’s perfectly normal to feel uneasy when meeting a new doctor, and in this case, a cardiologist doctor.
If you’ve been referred to a cardiologist, your primary care physician still plays a major role in your cardiovascular health, and they should help you coordinate your healthcare across various specialties and facilities, and manage your health over the long term.
In this article, we show you how to better prepare for your cardiologist appointment.
Preparing For Your Cardiologist Appointment
When you visit a cardiologist for the first time, just like with any doctor, there are a few ways you can prepare to reduce further stress. This also ensures you make the most out of the interaction between you and your cardiologist.
- Bring a list of your current medications. In fact, this should always be readily available. A simple sheet of paper or note on your phone with all your current medications, including the name, dosage, and how often you take them. This is super important for your cardiologist (and all doctors). And while you’re at it, a list of any medication-related allergies or side effects is also helpful.
- Make a list of your healthcare providers. Include details on the namse, address, and contact number for each doctor you see and what they are helping you with. This allows for seamless communication between your cardiologist doctor and your other healthcare providers.
- Know your health history. (Yes, another list.) Your cardiologist must know as much as possible about your health history. Knowing past health events can help your physician make a diagnosis or prescribe the best course of treatment. This list should include:
- Any surgical procedures with approximate dates.
- A list of any significant prior or ongoing illnesses or health issues.
- A list of any significant tests – especially if performed within the last year.
- Know your family’s health history. Any close blood relatives apply here, including brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and even children. Especially from a cardiology perspective, you should try to find out whether any of your relatives have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, or aneurysm. As well as knowing when any of your family members passed away and their cause of death. A detailed family history of significant health events can also provide insights into what conditions or illnesses you may be at risk fof developing.
- Copies of recent test results. If you have undergone any recent test within the past year, bring along copies of the lab results. Especially if this test took place with a different healthcare provider. Otherwise, you might have to do the tests again, duplicating them unnecessarily.
- Note any symptoms you are experiencing. If you are experiencing certain symptoms, it’s important that your cardiologist knows about these – even if you think it’s unrelated to your heart health.
- Do some research on your condition beforehand. There’s no harm in finding out more about your condition before your appointment. In fact, it’s a very good idea. Having a better understanding of your condition ahead of time opens up a more meaningful discussion between you and your cardiologist.
- Write down a list of your questions. If you have any specific questions about your condition/s, jot them down before you meet with your cardiologist, and don’t be shy to get that notebook out during your appointment to jot down information. Bring up any concerns you have so your doctor can address them. It is easy to get side-tracked and forget what you wanted to ask or mention.
We promise that was the last list! But it’s essential to stay organized. Put all this information into a folder and have it ready before your visit. Don’t take anything for granted either. Information systems are improving, but the most reliable bank of your healthcare record is still you. So, keep your copies accurate and updated.
It’s important to call your cardiologist beforehand so you can ask what tests will be done on the day of your appointment.
What To Expect During Your Appointment With a Cardiologist?
Depending on the reason for your cardiologist appointment you may be referred for a few medical tests. This may seem daunting, but your cardiologist is here to give you the best medical assistance possible.
The types of tests your cardiologist might order include the following:
- Blood tests
- Stress test – done on a treadmill
- Non-stress test – sitting in a chair
- Nuclear stress test or echo stress test
- CT, PET, or MRI scan
- Coronary angiogram
Just keep in mind that these are just potential tests, and you might not be subjected to any or all of them. They are just simple diagnostic tools your doctor may use to gain a better understanding of your heart health. Some patients need to meet their cardiologist at the hospital; this is probably because your cardiologist doctor would like to meet somewhere where all the tests can be run. This setting is nothing to be worried about, and it can actually save you time and money in the long term.
Cardiologist Appointment FAQs
Consider this a FAQ cheat sheet to keep on hand (in your back pocket) for these situations.
If you are being sent for tests:
- What are these tests for?
- Are there any risks of these tests?
- What do the tests involve?
- When can I expect the results?
If you are being diagnosed:
- What is the diagnosis?
- What does it mean for my family or me?
If your doctor is suggesting treatment:
- Why do I need this treatment?
- What are the possible risks and benefits of this treatment?
- Are there any alternatives?
If your doctor is recommending medication:
- Are there any side effects?
- How often do I need to take it?
- Do I need to change my lifestyle or be worried about any interactions with other medication?
After Your Appointment
Before you leave, make sure you find out how often and when you will need to follow up with your doctor. Make sure to ask about a number you can call if you have any questions – but if you followed our guidelines, you should be covered here. However, it is perfectly acceptable to give your doctor a call if you have any questions or new issues arise.
Remember that you and your medical team need to work together to better care for your health. Achieving the best outcome requires each person to understand and follow the treatment plan and communicate effectively. If any questions come up, the treatments don’t seem to be helping, or if you start to experience side effects, get in touch with your care team. Not every person responds the same way to a specific treatment. Sometimes a healthcare plan needs some adjusting to suit your goals and body accordingly.
Visiting a cardiologist doesn’t need to feel stressful. Showing up for your appointment prepared with all the necessary information is the bulk of the work. The rest lies in the capable hands of your cardiologist doctor. If you need to schedule a medical appointment with a cardiologist near you, download the Air Doctor app from the Apple or Google Play store.