A visit to a cardiologist for the first time is not something one looks forward to. You are anxious and, in your anxiety, you are likely to forget to ask some questions that you had meant to ask, especially if your cardiologist does not have too much time at his disposal. It is then better to be prepared with a list of questions, which you can share with the person accompanying you, in case you forget or still better, put them down on paper.
Your questions would depend upon whether you are going to see the cardiologist regarding some specific symptoms or problems, or you are going for a preventive check-up. Here are some important queries related to cardiology and heart health solved by Dr Tilak Suvarna, Senior Interventional Cardiologist, Asian Heart Institute, Mumbai.
Here are five questions that you must not forget to ask your cardiologist during your first visit.
1. Are my symptoms heart-related?
- If you are seeing a cardiologist because of some symptoms, then you should know whether these symptoms are due to heart or not. It is common to have symptoms of chest pain, which turn out to be musculoskeletal or gastric or even anxiety in origin.
- On the other hand, it is not uncommon to mistake symptoms of heart attack or angina as due to “gas” or “acidity”.
2. What tests, preferably non-invasive, could be done to diagnose the cause of my symptoms?
- If your symptoms are suspicious of a heart attack, then you would be advised an electrocardiogram (ECG) and a simple blood test (cardiac enzyme – Troponin).
- If your symptoms are suggestive of angina, then you would be advised an ECG, maybe a 2D-Echo and a treadmill stress test.
3. What is my risk of having a heart attack, and how do I reduce this risk?
- If you are seeing a cardiologist for a preventive health check-up, then you should know your risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the future. There are simple algorithms based on which your cardiologist would be able to tell you your relative risk of having a heart attack.
- Once you know your risk, then you should ask about measures to be taken to reduce this risk. These typically include some tests, lifestyle changes and sometimes medications.
4. What lifestyle changes need to be adopted for a healthy heart?
Lifestyle changes are significant, and you should know what these are. They include physical activity, adopting a heart-healthy diet, stopping smoking, weight reduction if obese or overweight and avoiding or managing stress.
5. Are there any alternative options to invasive procedures (angioplasty or bypass surgery)?
If you have been advised an angioplasty or bypass surgery or some other surgical or interventional procedure, then you should ask your cardiologist whether any alternative non-interventional option is possible in your particular case and the pros and cons of choosing either of them.
With inputs from Dr Tilak Suvarna, Senior Interventional Cardiologist, Asian Heart Institute, Mumbai
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