Preparing for your appointmentBy Mayo Clinic staff
You're likely to start by first seeing your family doctor. However, in some cases when you call to set up an appointment, you may be referred to a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of heart conditions (cardiologist).
Here's some information to help you prepare for your appointment.
What you can do
- Find out if you need to follow any pre-appointment restrictions, such as changing your activity level or your diet.
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, and how long you've had them.
- Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent changes in your life.
- Make a list of your key medical information, including other medical problems for which you've recently been treated and the names of any medications you're taking. Your doctor also will want to know if anyone in your family has had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or has experienced unexplained, sudden death.
- Find a family member or friend who can come with you to the appointment, if possible. Someone who accompanies you can help remember what the doctor says.
- Write down the questions you want to be sure to ask your doctor.
For hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What is likely causing my symptoms?
- Are there any other possible causes for these symptoms?
- What kinds of tests do I need?
- What treatment approach do you recommend?
- How soon after I begin treatment can I expect improvement in my symptoms?
- If the first treatment isn't effective, what will we try next?
- What is my risk of long-term complications?
- How will you monitor my health over time?
- What restrictions do I need to follow?
- Will sexual activity increase my risk of complications?
- Do you recommend that I meet with a genetic counselor?
- Should my children or other close relatives be screened for this condition?
- I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
- Should I see a specialist?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment at any time that you don't understand something.
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 talk about in-depth. Your doctor may ask:
- What are your symptoms?
- When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
- Have your symptoms changed over time? If so, how?
- Have you ever fainted?
- Does exercise or physical exertion make your symptoms worse?
- Are you aware of any history of heart problems in your family?
- Are you being treated for any other health conditions?
- Do you have children or are you planning to have children?
What you can do in the meantime
While you wait for your appointment, check with your family members to find out if any relatives have been diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or have experienced unexplained, sudden death. It will help your doctor to know as many details as possible about your family medical history. If exercise makes your symptoms worse, avoid strenuous exercise until you have seen your doctor and been given specific exercise recommendations.
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@hcm/documents/downloadable/ucm_312225.pdf. Accessed Dec. 7, 2010.
- Elliot PM. Clinical manifestations of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Dec. 7, 2010.
- Gemignani AS, et al. Cardiomyopathy, hypertrophic. In: Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2011: Instant Diagnosis and Treatment. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/page.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05610-6..00012-3--sc23005&isbn=978-0-323-05610-6&type=bookPage§ionEid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05610-6..00012-3--sc23005&uniqId=228752326-3. Accessed Dec. 7, 2010.
- Maron BJ. The 2009 International Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Summit. The American Journal of Cardiology. 2010;105:1164.
- Elliot PM. Diagnosis and evaluation of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Dec. 7, 2010.
- Maron BJ. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Circulation. 2002; 106:2419.
- Grogan M (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dec. 12, 2010.