Half of Americans have some form of cardiovascular disease (CVD), according to the A Report published in March 2018 in the magazine Rotation. Moreover, every 40 seconds, a person in the United States suffers a heart attack or stroke – making cardiovascular disease the number one cause of death.
This means that your cardiologist may be your most important doctor. Cardiologists are doctors who specialize in conditions related to the heart. They have a minimum of three years of training in cardiology after their medical residency, and in some subspecialties, they study an additional one or two years.
Your time at the cardiologist’s office, as with many doctors, will likely be short. Since there is a lot you want to cover, it is helpful to know in advance what you want to ask about Amy Pollack, MDassistant professor of cardiology at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida.
National Institutes of Health recommend Write a list of questions to ask your doctor. He also suggests documenting all medications, vitamins, and herbal supplements you’re taking, including the doses.
Everyday Health spoke with cardiologists to find out the right questions to ask to maintain a healthy heart, and why they are important.
Question 1: What is my risk of developing a cardiovascular problem in the future?
Why should you ask Dr. Pollack says understanding your risks for heart disease, stroke, aneurysm and the like drives much of your care. Someone whose cholesterol level is the cut-off but who has diabetes and a family history of heart disease, for example, will need more aggressive cholesterol treatment than someone at lower risk.
Doctors use several types of risk calculators to determine the 10-year risk of developing heart disease. But you can also learn in advance of seeing your doctor by taking advantage of the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology ASCVD Online Risk Calculator. It delivers the latest blood pressure and cholesterol readings, along with essential health information. Although Pollack cautions that the information provided by the risk calculator is not perfect, it would be a good start to a more meaningful conversation with your cardiologist.
Question 2: What symptoms might indicate a worsening of my own condition?
Why should you ask “This is a really smart question because heart disease is a very comprehensive term,” Pollack says. For example, a person with a leaky valve has different symptoms that indicate the condition is getting worse than a person with a heart rhythm problem.
You might think you know the symptoms of some conditions, such as chest pain that indicates a heart attack, but a large percentage of women, and even some men, have never experienced these signs, Pollack says. Instead, they develop shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, or discomfort in the neck, jaw, shoulder, or back. That’s why it’s important for your doctor to review all of your warning signs.
Question 3: How important is the adoption of new treatments and procedures in your opinion?
Why should you ask You don’t want a doctor who just jumps on the bandwagon because every new technology needs study and confirmation, he says Constantine Athanasoulias, MD, Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. But just as important, you don’t want someone so stuck in their ways that you don’t get the benefits of medical advancement.
For example, Dr. Athanasoulias points to several procedures developed or developed by the late cardiac surgeon Gerald Buckberg, MD, who laments in the book Heart disease puzzles solved Most doctors’ treatment of heart attacks hasn’t changed over the years, despite giving patients a specially developed solution in a cardiac catheterization lab. has been shown Significantly reduce death. Likewise, he writes about a unique surgical procedure for congestive heart failure that has not been approved by many physicians, although a study From 1200 patients published in Journal of the American College of Cardiology It was found that they increased survival over conventional treatments.
The best doctors aren’t the first to try something new, Athanasoulias says, nor are they the last. Instead, they are “wetted,” as he calls them, pursuing developments and embracing those that have proven their worth.
Question 4: Why do you recommend this test?
Why should you ask Most tests are important, Athanasoulias says, but in an effort to be comprehensive, cardiologists sometimes order a test that is unnecessary and won’t change your treatment. “Patients should ask if the test is accurate, repeatable, and will lead to a specific recommendation or change in treatment,” he says.
You can also ask if the doctor shares ownership of the testing facility, which is a potential red flag for over-testing. Appropriate test instructions can be found in online medical journals; If you’re looking for a specific test and have questions about its value, call the office to ask more questions, he says.
When Pollack recommends a test, she says she always explains what it includes and what her patient will experience. “I see the doctor-patient relationship because we are partners in the journey toward your health and wellness goals,” she says. She also tells her patients that no test is completely accurate, “even if it’s an excellent test interpreted by a well-trained eye,” she says.
Fifth question: Why do you prescribe this medicine?
Why should you ask Pollack says doctors — not your friends or comrades on social media — are in a better position to explain the drug’s pros and cons based on the science.
In fact, editors of more than twenty scientific journals related to heart disease Recently published an editorial In the February 2019 issue of the magazine gamma To “sound the alarm” for patients who decide to take statins and other medications based on incomplete information they read online. Be upfront with your doctor about any hesitations or concerns, Pollack says, so he or she can explain the research-proven benefits.
Carefully reviewing prescriptions can help you deal with any drug hindrances later. “Your doctor can explain the potential side effects and make a plan in case any of them occur,” she says.
Question 6: Will any changes in my lifestyle make a difference?
Why should you ask Cardiovascular disease is an area where changes in lifestyle — diet, exercise, stress reduction, sleep — can significantly affect the course of the condition.
For example, a Mediterranean diet — rich in vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats and low in saturated fats and added sugars — has been shown to improve many of the risk factors for heart disease in A study published in December 2018 in gamma network. The right diet is especially important if you are overweight or obese.
Some doctors will review lifestyle information with you, while others will refer you to dietitians, physical therapists, and other professionals they work with. Be sure to talk to your cardiologist about lifestyle changes to create a plan that works for you.