10 Things Your Cardiologist Wants You to Know

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
  • doctor holding heart and stethoscope
    From the Experts
    No one can overestimate the importance of a healthy heart. Cardiologists are there to help keep your ticker strong—both in diagnosing and treating heart issues. But ever wonder what your doctor wished you knew before setting foot in the office? Read on for 10 heart-smart tips, straight from the source.
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    1. “I’m not in cahoots with the drug industry.”
    If your cardiologist prescribed a medication for you, take it. Researchers have rigorously tested heart drugs, and they have proven effective. “If I prescribe a drug, it’s because I believe it will make you feel better and extend your life—period,” explains cardiologist Christine Lawless, MD, FACC. “There’s no conspiracy with the drug companies to make money."
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    2. “Don’t believe everything you read online.”
    Home remedies and vitamin cures probably don’t work and may actually hurt you. “Patients often try self-medicating with homemade therapies or vitamin ‘cures.’ But these remedies are not evidence-based and don’t take the place of legitimate therapy,” explains cardiologist Vincent Vivona, DO. “Plus, some vitamins negatively interact with heart medications—making the medication ineffective or even dangerous.”
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    3. “The more information you provide, the more quickly I can start helping you.”
    Come prepared for your first appointment by gathering needed information ahead of time. “Write down your medical history with the dates and locations of any previous cardiac procedures. And bring in the bottles of any medication you’re taking,” advises cardiologist Erin O’Malley-Tysko, MD.
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    4. “Let’s talk about sex.”
    “Sexual issues may also point to vascular problems that we need to know about,” adds Dr. Vivona. If you have an intimate concern, don’t be embarrassed to bring it up. Cardiologists can answer questions or prescribe medicine to help you have a safe and active sex life.
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    5. “Stay away from energy drinks.”
    They may pep you up, but these drinks are loaded with caffeine and chemicals that can cause palpitations and other heart issues. If you need extra energy, focus on getting more sleep.
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    6. “Be honest about your bad habits.”
    It’s tempting to be less-than-upfront about your cigarette breaks, alcohol consumption, or cheeseburger lunches. But stretching the truth only hurts your care. How a cardiologist manages your heart issues depends in part on your lifestyle habits,” says Dr. O’Malley-Tysko. “If we have an unclear picture, you may not be getting the right treatment.”
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    7. “We’re human, too.”
    Cardiologists understand how difficult it is to eat right, exercise, not smoke, and get enough sleep. Don’t assume they’re judging you when you fail to make lifestyle changes. They’ve probably struggled with it themselves.
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    8. “Talk to me before stopping or modifying your medication use.”
    Inconsistency in taking medication is a major problem among patients. Dr. Lawless advises, “If you’re not taking your medicine exactly as prescribed, let us know. Oftentimes, we can help find a solution to medication-related problems—from negative side effects to financial burden.”
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    9. “Find a doctor you connect with.”
    It’s important to feel comfortable with your cardiologist. To find the right fit, ask for recommendations from family, friends, or even the cardiology office staff. When you’re at your appointment, think about how the cardiologist responds to your questions. Do you feel satisfied with the answers? You should feel encouraged, rather than discouraged, from speaking up.
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    10. “Patients need to put themselves first.”
    At the same time, just because you like your doctor doesn’t mean you should continue seeing him or her. “Not all cardiologists provide the same type of care. If you aren’t getting the answers you need, find a cardiologist who will help you move forward,” says Dr. Lawless.
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10 Things Your Cardiologist Wants You to Know
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Last Review Date: 2021 Jul 4
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.