Preparing for your appointmentBy Mayo Clinic staff
You're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. However, you may then be referred to a doctor who specializes in disorders of the cardiovascular system (cardiologist) or a vascular surgeon.
Because appointments can be brief, and there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to arrive well prepared. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and know what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements that you're taking, as well as the dose that you take.
- Ask a family member or friend to come with you, if possible. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember all of the information provided to you during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Your time with your doctor may be limited, so preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For claudication, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What's the most likely cause of my symptoms?
- What kinds of tests do I need?
- Is this condition temporary or long-lasting?
- What treatments are available, and which do you recommend?
- What lifestyle changes can help me?
- If medication is needed, what side effects might I experience?
- I have other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
- Are there any activity restrictions that I need to follow?
- Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend visiting?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask additional questions during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:
- When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
- Do you have pain when you're exercising, when you're at rest, or both?
- On a scale of one to 10, how would you rate the pain?
- Does anything seem to improve your symptoms, such as stopping exercise?
- Do you need to sit down to get symptom relief, or does stopping and standing in one place relieve your symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
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- Peripheral artery disease. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/cardiovascular_disorders/peripheral_arterial_disorders/peripheral_arterial_disease.html. Accessed Nov. 18, 2011.
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- Rooke TW, et al. 2011 ACCF/AHA focused update of the guideline for the management of patients with peripheral artery disease (updating the 2005 guideline). Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 2011;58:2020.
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- Ahimastos AA, et al. A meta-analysis of the outcome of endovascular and noninvasive therapies in the treatment of intermittent claudication. Journal of Vascular Surgery. 2011;54:1511.