a woman with heart failure hands a giant question mark to her doctor

Questions to Ask Your Doctor (Part 2)

Editor's note: See Questions to Ask Your Doctor (Part 1) for more on this topic.

Here are more questions that you might want to ask your doctor (or not).

What is my life expectancy with heart failure?

Personally, I would not ask this question. Some people are inclined to ask and that is why I put it on here. No matter what the statistics are, they don’t apply to everyone. You most likely will get the statistics, “I don’t know,” or something along those lines. No one can tell you how long you are going to live. There are people that only live a few weeks or months after diagnosis up to many decades. Asking this question will add unnecessary stress to an already stressful diagnosis.

How can I prevent my condition from worsening?

This is one of the most important questions you can ask your doctor. When you do, make sure you get advice and ideas in multiple aspects of your daily routine. Medication, dietary changes and restrictions, exercise if allowed, sleep requirements, and anything else that you can think of.

Don’t settle for simple answers like taking your medication as prescribed. You now have a whole lifestyle you need to adapt to this condition. Medication is only a fraction of the changes you will need to make. Changing your lifestyle can lead to reduced use or discontinuation of the medication. If it doesn’t, that’s still ok. You are living a healthier lifestyle which is never bad.

What have you heard other people use or do to enhance the quality of their life?

Sometimes it’s all about the wording of a question. This may seem like it is similar to the previous question, but it words it a different way that may get you different answers. The above question is good, but it can also provide a more “robotic” response. You may hear textbook answers that in general are good, but don’t invite the doctor to recall what other patients have told him/her. When asking about specific experiences, you may get some other ideas out of your doctor or nurse that will help you as well.

What are some of the worst things I can do with my condition?

It is good to know what are some of the worst things you can do as they may not all relate to the changes you need to make. This can also jog your doctor’s memory giving him or her a different way to approach changes. Sometimes it can even help us to mentally want to make a change. If you are only told to make a change it can be hit or miss on motivation to actually make the change. When you hear something you are doing is one of the worst things you can do, it sticks in your mind when you do it and helps make you want to change.


This is another one of the most important questions you can ask. The best thing you can do is to be active in your care. If you don’t know why a doctor or nurse is doing something, ask them why. You have a right to know and should want to know. Not only will this help educate you, but it will also help you create more educated and beneficial questions to ask in the future. It is extremely important to know as much as you can about your condition and treatments.

Also, while doctors and nurses have no desire to harm you, they are human and do make mistakes. Asking why can help prevent mistakes. Even if you don’t know a mistake is about to happen, asking why could help them realize they are about to make a mistake.

How about you? What questions do you think are important to ask your doctor?

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