In order to maximize the interaction between you and your cardiologist at your next visit, it is best to come prepared. There are materials you should bring with you and ways you should prepare for your appointment. Here are some tips for a more meaningful visit:
Always bring your current medications or a list of your medications
A sheet of paper with all your current medications written out or typed out (including name, dose, and frequency of use) is an invaluable resource for your cardiologist. You can obtain a list of the current medications using the MedsCheck program. This program is free for Ontarians taking a minimum of three medications for a chronic condition. A list of any medication allergies is also helpful. Having these pieces of information written out helps ensure accuracy in your medical record.
Carry a list of your health care providers…
…including name, address, telephone number, and condition being followed. This will help ensure that communication between your cardiologist and all of your other care providers is complete.
Compile a list of your past health history
Important to include are any consult or follow up notes, hospital discharge summaries, surgical procedures (with at least approximate dates), a list of any major prior or ongoing illnesses/health issues, and a list of any major tests, especially if performed within the last year. Knowing past health events can help the physician make a diagnosis or prescribe the best course of treatment.
Compile a family health history of close blood relatives
This includes brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and children. From a cardiology perspective, what you are especially interested in finding out is whether any of your relatives have been diagnosed with heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or aneurysm. Knowing when any of your relatives passed away and cause of death is also important. A family history of health events can provide clues as to what illnesses/conditions you may be at risk for developing.
If you have them, bring in copies of any recent lab results and any other test results from the past year…
…especially if the testing took place with a different health care provider. This will help avoid duplicating tests unnecessarily.
Visit CardioSmart to find out more about your condition prior to your appointment
Having a better understanding of your condition ahead of time will allow you to have a more meaningful discussion with your physician. Visit CardioSmart.
Write down a list of the questions you have about your condition…
…and bring it with you to the appointment. Keep the list realistic in length. You might want to pick the top 3 or 4 concerns you would like to have addressed during your visit. Even though this might seem silly, it is easy to get side tracked during a medical appointment. Write down ahead of time what pieces of information you want to leave with.
Keep yourself organized
Putting all this data into a folder or a personal health journal is a good idea so it’s easy to access during your visit.
Don’t take anything for granted
Although information systems are getting better, and communication between systems is improving, you are still the most reliable repository of your health care record. Keep your copy accurate and up to date.