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Doctor Appointments: Be Your Own Advocate

by Christy D. on Monday, July 8, 2013

Do you know what questions to ask your healthcare team so you can take an active part in your heart and stroke health? The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association can be your partner in making sure you’re getting the care you need. 

One of the most important relationships you’ll ever have is the one you’ll develop with your doctor.  But it’s not just about listening to what you’re told, it’s about asking the right questions — and asking again if you don’t get the answers you need.

Remember: Open communication builds trust. And if you feel like it’s not happening, get a second opinion. Don’t be shy — keep asking. If you need help finding a doctor, check out these helpful tips on finding the right doctor for you. Take part in decisions about your treatment, follow the treatment plan you and your doctor agree on, watch for problems and become actively involved in solving them to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Getting Started
Feel a twinge or just have a sneaking suspicion that something’s not right? If you’re like millions of others, you may start looking online before you visit the doctor. It’s important to know how to sort the authoritative science and medical advice from the junk. Instead of randomly searching, start with credible resources and learn to be a “smart searcher” when looking online for medical advice.

And whatever you do, don’t self-diagnose. We know: It’s tempting! Instead, rely on a trusted healthcare professional. To get started with some of the questions that matter most, answer these three to learn your personal risk of heart disease and stroke. They’re important ones — and knowing the answers could save your life.

Make the Most of Your Medical Visit
Headed to the doctor for a check-up? It’s easy to get overwhelmed and tongue-tied. Preparing for medical visits can help you feel more in control of your health. The questions (divided by category) detailed on that page cover most of the important topics you should discuss with your doctor, such as heart and stroke health, diet, losing weight, cholesterol, high blood pressure, physical activity, quitting cigarettes and tobacco, and medication.

What about screening tests?
How often should I get screened? Does age matter? Screening tests can be an important part of your medical care, but you may wonder why you need them. Here are some of the common screening tests you may want to ask your doctor about.

You can also use this quick-reference PDF chart to record important — even lifesaving!  — information so you’ll be prepared to take the My Life Check® Assessment. Learn what the American Heart Association calls Life’s Simple 7®  — key health factors and behaviors that keep your heart healthy, lower your risk of heart disease and stroke, and improve your quality of life.

Finally, if you’re not satisfied with what you’re hearing from your doctor, get a second opinion. If you’re conflicted about which advice to take, ask yourself: Does the plan of your doctor or the second doctor make the most sense, involve the least risk and focus on the medical issues that are most important to you?”

Learn more about being your own advocate when it comes to your health at www.heart.org/questionstoask

 

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