Five ways to help prepare for your Doctor or Cardiac Specialist appointment
What is Heart Disease?
Heart disease is also known as cardiovascular disease and is the broad term to describe a variety of conditions that affects the structure of the heart.
How to prepare for a visit to your Doctor or Cardiac Specialist
Doctor or specialist visits require preparation, to gain the most from the consultation and for the doctor/specialist to plan the best medical and wellbeing options for you.
Time is involved in many ways for you and the doctor/specialist, both pre, during, and post-consultation. This includes:
- paperwork preparation
- recording of symptom observations
- recording of vital medication/supplement information
- travel to and from the appointment
- the consultation itself
- follow up notes
- any further tests required
- health programs recommended
It is time to tune in, be honest with yourself and identify and address lifestyle factors that may contribute to medical conditions. This is to discover ways to assist your health care team, help you, enhance your wellbeing outcomes.
Read on to discover 5 ways to help you share this information and how to best prepare for your medical appointment.
5 ways to prepare for your doctor or cardiac specialist appointment
Doctors and specialists are here to help you but also have many hundreds of other patients and commitments.
To assist you to prepare for the consultation and making the most of your appointment, here is a list of things that will help you and allow the doctor or specialist to best assist you with options for your medical and personal wellbeing.
Tune into and take H.E.A.R.T. An acronym to help you prepare:
- H – Have an adult/advocate accompany you – Loved one’s observations. A loved one or trusted adult if asked, can prompt you or remind you of symptoms and observations. Often loved ones observe symptoms of changes in your physical and emotional wellbeing as you experience them. Allow them to contribute their observations in helping you prepare; prior to, during, and after a consultation. Depending on the type of consultation, you may need someone to drive you to and from the appointment. You may also consider having someone with you for phone or video appointments. Loved ones can help you coordinate appointments and remind you of future consultations.
- E – Explain symptoms – Record your symptoms. Do not minimalise or dismiss symptoms. Use Heart Health Check Questionnaire to record your heart health check so they are readily available to share with the doctor or specialist.
- A – Ask questions – Write a list of questions that will help both you and your doctor or specialist. Often health issues can be overwhelming with the enormity of medical information and terminology, plus types of treatments to process; as well as personal questions you have relating to your specific condition. Write each question down, then sort through and highlight the most important ones you would like answered.
- R – Review of medications/supplements – It is imperative you list dosage and frequency (or take the product with the original label) of any medications and/or supplements you take, in all forms: tablets, herbs and liquids, both prescription and non-prescription; to your doctor or specialist appointment. This is, to gain an understanding of what you take, to avoid: drug to drug interaction, drug to food interaction or drug with disease interaction. Avoiding a pharmacodynamics interaction of medications or supplements is to avoid an allergic reaction, and/or an addictive (synergistic) effect or a decreased (antagonist) effect. Review of medications. Considering your individual needs and circumstances, your doctor or specialist will be able to review your medications, in conjunction with all the other information you provide: such as symptoms and any additional medical conditions, both physiological or psychological (comorbidities).
- T – Take notes – Reduce overwhelm. Often a medical appointment can cause overwhelm, anxiety or stress. By preparing yourself with information beforehand, it allows you to ask relevant questions during the consultation. It is unnerving to walk out and realise you forgot to ask something and your next appointment is some time away. Taking notes before, during and after an appointment allows you to prepare then record: care needs to manage your condition, diagnosis, treatment, lifestyle recommendations, future appointments or tests, and information regarding the dosage of prescription medications. If you feel you missed something from the appointment, ask your advocate to help you record information for future reference.
This list is not conclusive. Follow any guidelines and advice from your doctor or specialist, health care or multidisciplinary team, for your personalised patient-centred needs and care. Inquire about a patient advocate group regarding your specific needs.
Written by Raelene Dal Santo
and edited by Shane Bassett, Clinical Content Director, Connect The Docs, RN/BN/CCRN
Image Credit: Go Red for Women