If you were recently diagnosed with heart disease, you’re probably experiencing a range of emotions—from fear and loneliness to denial, frustration, uncertainty and anger. But, it’s important to remember, you’re not alone. Millions of women live, and even thrive, with heart disease.
A diagnosis of heart disease is life-changing. You will have to make important decisions about your care and treatment. To take charge of your heart health, you will need to partner with your doctor (or other healthcare provider) and work together as a team to fight your heart disease. Playing an active role in your health and recovery will give you a greater sense of control over your condition, allow you to stay on top of your health and make informed decisions about your heart health plan.
Here are six tips to help you make the most of your doctor’s visits.
1 Ask questions. Prepare in advance for your office visits by making a list of any questions or concerns you wish to discuss. If you don’t understand the information or instructions your doctor has given to you, ask for clarification. Be sure to take notes and find out who you should contact if you have additional questions and how to contact that person (i.e. your doctor, nurse, phone, or E-mail).
2 Be truthful about your symptoms and behaviors. You cannot expect your doctor to diagnose you properly or prescribe the correct treatments unless you disclose your complete family medical history and current symptoms. You also need to be candid about any harmful behaviors you are engaging in -- smoking, eating fatty foods, or abusing alcohol -- and about all the remedies you are currently taking -- prescription medicines, vitamins, herbs, and other naturopathic or folk medicines.
3 Educate yourself. Read newspapers, books, magazines, and Internet articles about women and heart disease to keep abreast of new research findings and treatments. You can then share this new information with your doctor to see if it's relevant to your condition. Also, don't hesitate to ask your doctor to explain something if it's unclear or confusing. Learn, too, all about health and wellness, and what you can do to take better care of yourself -- eat healthy foods and get more exercise.
4 Share decision-making. Be willing to discuss different treatment choices with your doctors, and be open to their suggestions. In the end, you are the one who has to implement any final decisions so make sure you are comfortable with and understand them.
5 Speak Up. If something is bothering you about the quality of your medical care or your doctor's behavior, don't be shy - speak up! Or find another doctor with whom you feel more comfortable. You are the paying customer here - don't ever settle for inferior, condescending, or rude service. To do nothing means you may eventually avoid your doctor visits or fail to follow your treatment plan.
6 Maintain boundaries. Treat your doctors with respect and expect to be treated with that same respect. Do not burden them with unnecessary phone calls or repeated office visits. Also, respect the time constraints doctors now face under managed care and use your time together as efficiently as possible.