Jon Johnston

Questions To Ask Your Cardiologist After A Heart Attack

This is a list of questions you might want to ask your cardiologist after you’ve had a heart attack. The questions here may or may not apply to your specific situation. It’s important to understand that every heart attack and every survivor is different.

Was my heart permanently damaged by my heart attack event?
This question is about understanding what condition your heart is in and what you need to do from now on to take care of it.

What is my EF?
EF stands for “ejection fraction.” Ejection fraction is a measurement of the percentage of blood leaving your heart each time it contracts. It’s basically a measurement of how well your heart works. Normal is between 50 and 70 percent.

What is the possibility of having another heart attack (and what do I need to do to avoid one)?
This question is standard for every heart attack survivor. If it doesn’t come up in the doctors office, it will come up late at night just before you go to bed and drive you crazy. Ask.

What are my medications and what do they do?
The more you understand about your medication’s less likely you are to take something that may conflict with him and cause a problem. The less likely you are to get anxious about them.

What if I miss a dose of my medications?
Not having the answer to this question plagued my wife and I with anxiety because I constantly forgot to take my medicine. Having the answer ahead of time spares you the anxiety.

What can I have when I have a cold/flu/stuffy nose?
We never seem to think of this until we have a cold or the flu. A lot of over the counter medicine can affect your blood pressure or counteract with your existing medicine. It’s best to know ahead of time.

What can I take when I can’t sleep?
Some sleep aids make counteract with your existing medicine. Like cold medicine it’s best to know ahead of time what you should and should not take.

How much activity is okay for me? When or will I be able to participate is sports (or other activities) as I have previously? How soon can I return to work?
All of us have different levels of activity. Many heart attack survivors who were gym rats, runners, bicyclists, and outdoor enthusiasts will want to know when they can resume those activities if at all.
Returning to work is obviously a huge issue for almost everyone. You may ask your doctor what is safe, and you might also ask them what to tell your employer. You might ask if you need a doctor’s note to return to work.

What exercise is appropriate for me?
When I left the hospital I was given recommendations on exercise. I was told to walk daily and the amount increased each week I was out of the hospital. You may be given recommendations, but if you’re not you should ask so that you don’t over exert yourself an and up back in the emergency room.

What causes your blood pressure to drop when we are on medication for regulating our blood pressure?
This is always confusing and it would be nice to have an answer for it.

When do I take my nitro? (If prescribed)
I was prescribed nitro-glycerine shortly after I went home from the hospital. It’s important to know what it does, how it will affect you, and when you should take it.

How important is a low-salt or no-salt diet?
I made the assumption I needed to cut salt out of my diet; it resulted in everything tasting terrible and eating was a miserable experience. I made a bad assumption. I didn’t need to cut salt completely, I just needed to follow regular guidelines.
Ask your doctor about salt intake.

What changes in diet do I need to make?
You might ask your doctor or cardiologist about example diets need like you to follow.

Do I need to make changes in lifestyle? If so, what type?

There’s not a rational doctor alive that would advise you to keep smoking. Doctors may also have recommendations on job-related stress, alcohol intake, or other factors that may influence your recovery.

Are periodic check ups necessary? How often?
I see my cardiologist at least once a year due to the severity of my heart attack.

Can I have sex?
It may be a well before you can return to sex depending upon the severity of your heart attack. Ask.

Is it safe to use sildenafil (Viagra) or other similar medication for erectile dysfunction?
Taking viagra (or similar medication) around the same time you take nitro could drop your blood pressure so low that it could kill you. Be aware of the side effects.

How do I know if I need to call 911 (999) or the local emergency number?

I like to avoid trips to the hospital. Knowing when you should call an emergency number versus a regular doctors office might spare you a lot of money and a huge amount of anxiety.

Should I measure my blood pressure regularly?

I never take my own blood pressure. I believe it causes unnecessary anxiety. Ask your doctor if it’s necessary or helpful.

How long does it take an artery to clog before it becomes an issue for your Heart?
Heart patients may have an artery blocked at 40%. It may or may not be an issue until it reaches a higher level, such as 70%. Ask your cardiologist about when it will become a problem.

Photo credit: Photo by Muesli on Unsplash