Getting to know the patient experience of visiting a cardiologist

For many patients, the first experience of meeting a cardiologist occurs in the emergency care department. Cardiologists do, however, prefer to meet with patients before a major cardiovascular event like a heart attack occurs. This featured video explains what one cardiologist at West Hills Hospital wishes patients knew about their heart health . By paying attention to the subtle signs that something is wrong, you can get the treatment you need before a life-threatening event occurs.

Preparing for a cardiology appointment
Assuming your heart condition doesn’t require emergency care, you should have a little time to prepare for your cardiology appointment . Call the hospital ahead of time to find out what you should bring and whether you need to fast for any medical tests. Your cardiologist needs you to bring:

  • Your medications, vitamins and supplements, or a list of them
  • Your family medical history
  • Your own medical history, including prior surgeries
  • A list of your healthcare providers
  • Your lab results and imaging scans, if applicable
  • A list of your questions

Expect your cardiologist to ask about the symptoms you’ve experienced, which might include heart palpitations, dizziness or fatigue.

Undergoing heart health tests
An electrocardiogram, or EKG, is one of the most commonly performed diagnostic tests for heart health. It’s noninvasive and painless. An EKG records the electrical activity of the heart.

Another common cardiac test is an echocardiogram, which is an ultrasound of the heart.

A stress test monitors your heart while you exercise. If you’re unable to exercise safely, a medication can be used to mimic the effects of exercise on the heart.

Improving heart health
Your cardiologist truly wants you to enjoy good quality of life despite your heart condition. He or she will work one-on-one with you to help you improve your heart health. You may also work with other providers, such as a registered dietician, psychologist or physical therapist.

Depending on the cardiologist’s findings, you might be asked to:

  • Take medications
  • Quit smoking
  • Lose weight
  • Follow a safe exercise program
  • Eat balanced, nutritious meals
  • Increase your dietary fiber
  • Limit or avoid alcohol

Talk to your doctor if you’re having trouble adapting to a heart-healthy lifestyle. He or she can brainstorm solutions that fit your needs.

West Hills Regional Heart and Vascular Institute is committed to saving the lives of our patients with our 24/7, nationally accredited cardiac services. Our hospital attracts the top cardiovascular experts in their field because of our reputation for putting our patients first. Call 911 immediately for emergency care, or call West Hills Hospital at (818) 676-4321 for general questions of a non-emergency nature.

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