What Are Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Your Heart Failure?
A diagnosis of heart failure (HF) can be alarming to patients and family members. If you or someone you care for has been diagnosed with heart failure, there is information available to help you through the process. Questions that you can ask your cardiologist fall into several categories.1
Although each question may not be relevant to you, it is a good idea to read through them, so you have a better understanding of your condition and know what steps to take to stay healthy.2 Good communication with your healthcare team can make living with heart failure easier. Here is a list of potential questions:1-5
Understanding heart failure
- What kind of heart failure do I have?
- Will you explain my diagnosis?
- Is my heart failure mild, moderate or severe?
- Does heart failure affect any other medical conditions that I have?
- Will heart failure change my life expectancy?
- What treatment approach are you suggesting and what are my alternatives?
- What medications should I take?
- How often should I take them? Will I have to take them for the rest of my life?
- Will they interact with any other medications or vitamins or supplements that I take?
- Do I need cardiac rehabilitation?
- Do I need an implantable device like a pacemaker?
- Will I ever need a heart transplant?
- Are there clinical trials I should be considering?
- What kind of home monitoring should I do?
- How often should I check my pulse, blood pressure and weight?
- When should I do this monitoring?
- Do I need to keep track of the results?
- Are there any symptoms I should look out for?
- What changes in symptoms should I report such as medication side effects or new or changed HF symptoms like swelling or weight gain?
- How can I reach you?
- How do I know if I should call your office or seek emergency care?
- Do I need to lose weight?
- Do I need to change the way I eat?
- Is there a specific diet I should be on e.g., Mediterranean, keto, low-fat?
- Do I need to restrict my salt intake?
- Do I need to restrict my fluid intake?
- Can I drink alcohol? If so, how much?
- Can I still smoke? If so, how much?
- How many hours a day do I need to sleep?
- What kind of exercise can I/should I do?
- Are there any activities that are off-limits?
- Can I continue to have sex? Is it OK to use ED medications?
- Can I do regular activities like driving, going to work, climbing steps and doing laundry?
Heart failure is a chronic condition that is best treated as a partnership between you and your healthcare team. It is always a good idea to take a friend or family member with you to the doctor. Bring a list of questions like those above or any others that relate to your personal condition. There are no bad questions. Try not to feel embarrassed, chances are someone has asked the same question before you. Questions that may feel silly could have answers that can be helpful in managing your condition. Also, bring a notebook or pad so you can write down the answers. It can be difficult to remember the answers to all the questions and having notes can be a useful resource when you get home.4