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Talking to Your Doctor About Arrhythmias (Heart Rhythm Disturbances)

You have a unique health history. It’s essential to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors 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. Make sure you understand what you are hearing. If you don't, tell the doctor. Ask for educational materials.
  • Ask where you can find more information. 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 will happen?
  • How did I get this arrhythmia?
  • Is there anything I can do to make my heartbeat normal?

About Your Risk of Sudden Death

  • How likely is it that this arrhythmia will lead to sudden death?
  • How fast do we need to act to prevent sudden death?
  • What tools should I have with me to keep sudden death from happening?

About Treatment Options

  • How are arrhythmias treated?
  • Are there any alterative options?
  • What are the possible side effects?
  • How long will I need to have it treated?
  • Will I have to take medicine 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?

Getting the most out of your doctor appointment. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: Updated January 19, 2018. Accessed January 3, 2019.

Heart-to-heart: Talking to your doctor. American Heart Association website. Available at: Accessed January 3, 2019.

Preparing for medical visits. American Heart Association website. Available at: Accessed January 3, 2019.

Talking to your doctor. National Institutes of Health website. Available at: Updated December 10, 2018. Accessed January 3, 2019.

Last reviewed December 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael J. Fucci, DO, FACC  Last Updated: 1/3/2019