What should I ask my heart consultant?

Don't worry about asking your consultant questions..

As most doctors advise, it is important for every patient to feel part of the medical decision making process. There are always options and these need to be reviewed properly in order to ensure careful, infomed and mutual decision making.A consultation with a cardiologist is one of the best opportunities to understand your own options, and so it is appropriate to be prepared, and not to worry about asking lots of questions.

The Patient Guide to Heart Research

London Cardiologist, Dr Oliver Segal has prepared a very useful guide for any patient concerned, or diagnosed with a heart condition. He says, "Remember, medicine is a science but that doesn’t mean there is only one correct answer or way of doing something. It is important you feel involved in the decision making process and there will almost always be different treatment options available."

In his Cardiology Consultation Checklist, Dr Segal encourages all patients who are being offered any treatment to ask their consultant the following questions:

How successful are the treatments?

o   What do the treatments involve?

o   What are the complication rates and what can go wrong?

o   Can I compare the relative risks and benefits of the options?

o   Can the treatment be repeated if it doesn’t work first time?

o   What happens if I decline the treatment? Can it be avoided?

o   How long will I be in hospital for?

o   How long is the recovery time?

o   Will I be unable to work, drive, fly afterwards? How long for?

o   Do I need a referral or a second opinion?

o   Who specialises in the preferred treatment options / who are the relevant experts?

o   What track record can the specialist demonstrate and what is the success rate and post-operative infection rate?

o   What’s the next step?

o   Where can I get more information? 

o   Is there a charity or support group that I can contact?

o   Who should I call if I start to feel worse?

o   What is the post-treatment plan, and what help will be available?

A condition that is linked to, or is a consequence of, another disease or procedure. Full medical glossary
Invasion by organisms that may be harmful, for example bacteria or parasites. Full medical glossary
A large abdominal organ that has many important roles including the production of bile and clotting factors, detoxification, and the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Full medical glossary