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Talking to Your Doctor About Heart Attack

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 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?
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References:

Acute coronary syndromes. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated February 22, 2017. Accessed March 2, 2017.
Heart-to-heart. Talking to your doctor. American Heart Association website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated October 26, 2015. Accessed March 2, 2017.
Preparing for medical visits. American Heart Association website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated October 12, 2016. Accessed March 2, 2017.
ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated January 30, 2017. Accessed March 2, 2017.
Talking to your doctor. National Institutes of Health website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
December 7, 2016. Accessed March 2, 2017.
Tips for talking to your doctor. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated May 2014. Accessed March 2, 2017.
Last reviewed March 2017 by Michael J. Fucci, DO, FACC
Last Updated: 3/15/2015

 

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