Questions to Ask Your Doctor (Part 1)
Here are a few very important questions to ask your doctor.
What type of heart failure do I have (right or left-sided)?
This is important to know for a few reasons. It will help you identify what type of symptoms you should expect. While many of the symptoms are similar, depending on the type of heart failure, you will have different ones depending on what part of the heart is affected.
This will also give you an idea of what kind of progression you can expect if your heart failure becomes worse. It is also good to know this so you can tell any new doctor that you see what type of heart failure you have. It may alter the type of medication or treatment they want to pursue and save you an unexpected visit to the emergency department.
What is the cause of my heart failure?
Unfortunately, this question may not give you an answer, but it is worth asking about. The answer may help a family member or friend. Some of you may know how you acquired heart failure. Mine was from a heart attack so there is no need for me to ask this question. There are a lot of different ways you could have acquired heart failure and knowing how might help a loved one if they have the same cause happening to them.
If it was a virus, it may help them be more vigilant about their health. High blood pressure is another cause of heart failure which is essentially “silent” when it attacks a person’s body. Direct family members, especially children, can be more genetically prone to heart failure. This will give them more of a reason to stay on top of their overall health and possibly catch heart failure early if they were to get it. Catching it early and receiving treatment can be very beneficial.
What symptoms should I expect and how do I manage them?
With any disease, you need to know what to expect. Since this is generally a life long illness, it is imperative to know what symptoms you will have. Knowing the symptoms will relieve some anxiety when they do appear because you know to expect them.
Managing them is the other crucial part. Some symptoms can lead you to the emergency department which is not what anyone wants. There are a lot of different ways to manage symptoms and your physician should be able to give you the most successful ways. Recognition and management of symptoms will hopefully help reduce trips to the emergency department.
When should I call you (the doctor) or go to the emergency department?
Symptoms can onset quickly and hard. Sometimes they don’t give any warning. It is best to know when you are not in immediate danger and can take the time to call your doctor. You also need to know when you have a serious issue and need to seek emergency treatment.
If you live in a country like the United States where a trip to the emergency room can get quite pricy, not knowing when to go could cause a delay that can be life-threatening. While the cost of a trip to the emergency room is high, it still beats the possibility of dying. If you know when you can call your doctor as opposed to the emergency room can save you some money and the stress of making that decision. As always, if you feel like you need to go to the emergency department, always err on the side of caution and go to the ER.
What type of heart failure have you been diagnosed with?