What to Expect at Your First Cardiologist Visit

What to Expect at Your First Cardiologist Visit

Cardiologists are specialists in heart health. Your primary care doctor takes care of your overall well-being, but if he or she finds a potential heart condition, you will be referred to a cardiologist. Cardiologists have up to 16 years of education dedicated to understanding and treating complex heart conditions. You may find yourself visiting a cardiologist if your physician suspects a heart attack, heart rhythm disturbance, heart defect, hardening of the heart arteries (atherosclerosis), infection or other problem. 

Knowing what a cardiologist will do during your first visit and preparing in advance can help you relax and get the most out of your upcoming appointment.

Preparation Checklist

In order to make the most of your cardiologist appointment, consider bringing these items along:

  • a list of current medications, including the name of each medication, dose and how often you take it
  • a document listing all current health care providers (this keeps communication seamless between your entire care team)
  • copies of recent lab results
  • your entire medical history, including any current or past illnesses and prior procedures
  • your family health history to help your physician detect if heart disease runs in your family (include immediate family, children, grandparents, aunts and uncles) 

Ask your primary care physician for tips for what to bring to your cardiologist appointment. Your physician may remind you to bring an important test result, or help you fill any holes in your medical history. 

It may also be beneficial to learn more about your condition before your appointment. While your cardiologist is happy to explain your condition to you, having a basic understanding of your illness may free up some time for further questions you have for the doctor.  

What to Expect

Every appointment has different goals. Your first appointment will likely be a time to get to know your cardiologist and get a better idea of your heart condition. Your cardiologist may: 

1. Complete a Physical Examination.

Your cardiologist will review your medical history and perform a medical examination. This includes checking your weight and testing for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other risk factors for heart disease. 

2. Order Diagnostic Tests.

The cardiologist may order diagnostic testing, such as blood tests, an X-ray, stress test or electrocardiogram. Further testing ensures you are getting the most accurate, complete diagnosis. 

3. Recommend Treatment.

Your cardiologist will need to see lab results before creating a treatment plan. Based on your test results, he or she will write you a prescription, suggest important lifestyle changes or refer you to a cardiovascular surgeon if needed. 

Questions to Ask Your Cardiologist

Write down at least three questions you have for your cardiologist before your appointment. This will help your visit feel productive and informative. Here are some examples:

  • What lifestyle changes should I make to help my condition? 
  • Can you explain ____ test results to me?
  • Should I make any changes to my daily activities? 
  • What warning signs should I watch for that indicate my condition is worsening? 
  • How will my condition progress? 

Questions about your heart health?

Make an appointment with a primary care provider today?