Preparing for your appointmentBy Mayo Clinic staff
You're likely to start by first seeing your family doctor or an emergency room physician. 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
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing and for how long. Also note if you've had similar symptoms that have come and gone in the past.
- Make a list of your key medical information, including other recent health problems you've had and the names of any prescription and over-the-counter medications you're taking.
- 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 pericarditis, 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? Will I need to be hospitalized for testing?
- What treatment approach do you recommend?
- How soon after I begin treatment can I expect improvement in my symptoms?
- What are the possible side effects of the treatments you're prescribing?
- If the first treatment isn't effective, what will we try next?
- What is the risk of these symptoms recurring?
- Am I at risk of long-term complications from this condition?
- How often will I need follow-up appointments for this condition?
- Do I need to follow any restrictions?
- Are there any special guidelines for managing this condition along with my other health conditions?
- Should I see a specialist?
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?
- In what part of your chest is your pain located?
- Did your symptoms come on gradually or suddenly? When?
- Have you had similar symptoms in the past?
- Are you having any difficulty breathing?
- How does sitting up and leaning forward affect your pain?
- How does lying down affect your pain?
- Does anything else make your pain better or worse?
- Have you recently had a cold or the flu?
- Have you recently had a fever?
- Have you recently lost weight without trying?
- Have you been diagnosed with any other medical conditions?
- Do any of your first-degree relatives — parents, siblings or children — have a history of heart disease?
- Do you or did you smoke? How much?
- Cohen S, et al. Pericarditis. 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..00025-1--sc30620&isbn=978-0-323-05610-6&type=bookPage§ionEid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05610-6..00025-1--sc30620&uniqId=234882123-3. Accessed Feb. 8, 2011.
- Pericarditis. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/sec07/ch078/ch078a.html. Accessed Feb. 8, 2011.
- Pericardium and Pericarditis. American Heart Association. http://www.americanheart.org/print_presenter.jhtml?identifier=4683. Accessed Feb. 8, 2011.
- Imazio M. Evaluation and management of acute pericarditis. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Feb. 8, 2011.
- Grogan M (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Feb. 18, 2011.