11 questions to ask your doctor about heart failure

Get the most out of your appointments by asking questions that help you understand heart failure and your treatment options.

Some people may feel anxious when they see their doctor and often forget or don’t feel comfortable asking questions about their condition. Don’t be afraid to ask questions during your appointment, especially if you’re concerned or confused and feel you need more information. It can be helpful to prepare a list of questions beforehand to bring with you so you don’t forget.

Questions to ask your doctor

Here are some questions to help you get started. You can use it as a guide and choose the ones you feel are most appropriate to you.

1. What is heart failure?

2. What may have caused my heart failure?

3. What tests will I need to have? How often will I need these tests?

4. Will the results of these tests change my treatment?

5. What are my medication options?

  • How do these medications help heart failure?
  • Why do I need the medications you’ve prescribed for me?
  • Are there any key side effects I need to be aware of?
  • How many and how often should I be taking each of my medications?
  • How long will I need to take these medications for?

6. What are my other treatment options?

  • What are the benefits of these treatment options?
  • Can you refer me to a dietitian who can give me more advice about improving my diet and cutting down on salt?
  • Where is my local, evidence-based physical activity program and how can I enrol? (It’s really important to seek the help of a health professional like a physio or exercise psychologist not a local personal trainer or boot camp instructor.)
  • Do I need cardiac rehab to help keep my heart healthy and if so, how do I access it?
  • I’m a smoker – can you suggest any support to help me quit?

7. Who should be in my care team? (A team approach to managing heart failure is really important. Your care team may include a cardiologist, GP, nurse, dietitian, pharmacist, physiotherapist, social worker, palliative care specialist and your family.)

8. Can we work out a care plan together? (This will spell out your medication needs, the other health workers you will see and the roles they have in your care, your regular checks and appointments.)

9. What should I do if my condition gets worse?

10. Will I need time away from work or have times where I won’t be able to carry out my everyday tasks?

11. Can you let me know where I can get additional emotional or mental support for myself and my carers? 

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