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Talking to Your Doctor About Heart Failure

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 failure. 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 heart failure. You have a right to know.

Specific Questions to Ask Your Doctor

The following are some suggested questions to discuss with your doctor, recommended by the American Heart Association:

About Heart Failure

  • What is my diagnosis?
  • Is the heart failure mild, moderate, or severe?

About Your Risk of Developing Heart Failure

  • Am I or is anyone in my family at risk for developing heart failure?
  • What can I do to prevent heart failure?

About Treatment Options

  • What are the treatment options for my condition?
  • What side effects are caused by this treatment?
  • What is likely to happen without treatment?
  • Are there any alternative or complementary therapies that will help me?

About Medication

  • What medications are available to me?
    • Are there any medications, in particular, that would be of benefit to me?
    • What are the side effects of these medications?
    • What should be done if these side effects occur?
    • Will these medications interact with other medications, over-the-counter products, or dietary or herbal supplements that I am already taking?
  • What is the name of the medication? Is this the brand or generic name? Does it matter which one is used?
  • What is the medication supposed to do?
  • How and when should it be taken—and for how long?
  • What foods, drinks, and other medication should be avoided while taking this medication?
  • Is any written information available about the medication?
  • If a certain medication is causing side effects that are difficult to deal with, is there some way to minimize those side effects? Is there another equally good medication available?

About Lifestyle Changes

  • What are some specific ways that daily life will change?
  • Can I still work, play golf, have sex, do the laundry? Be sure to ask about any specific activity that you have in mind.
  • What strategies have other people found useful for motivating themselves to:
    • Eat better?
    • Exercise?
    • Stop smoking?
  • If I make these changes, how will they benefit me?
  • Will these changes cure my heart failure?

About Outlook

  • Should I see a specialist?
  • What should we expect within the next few weeks, months, and years?
  • Will I benefit from a support group? If so, can you recommend one?
  • Will I need a cardiac rehabilitation program?
  • What is the likely progression of the condition?
  • What are the most important things we can do to manage this condition?
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References:

Heart failure with reduced ejection fraction. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated September 1, 2017. Accessed September 15, 2017.
Heart failure questions to ask your doctor. American Heart Association website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated May 9, 2017. Accessed September 15, 2017.
Tips for talking to your doctor. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/tips-for-talking-to-your-doctor. Updated May 2014. Accessed September 15, 2017.
Last reviewed September 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael J. Fucci, DO, FACC
Last Updated: 9/17/2014

 

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