Questions to Ask Your Doctor

Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Heart Disease

Nothing replaces a discussion with your doctor or health care provider. Being honest about your risk factors will get you the most realistic assessment and help your doctor develop a plan to lower your overall risk.

Questions for Everyone

Choose the questions most relevant to you and write down the answers. Don't be afraid to ask follow-up questions if you need more information or clarification. Take charge of your heart health!

Questions to Assess Your Risk

  • What is the difference between heart disease, heart attack and heart failure?
  • What are the warning signs or symptoms of heart disease?
  • Do I have heart disease?
  • What tests should I have, and how often, to monitor my risk factors for developing heart disease and stroke?
  • What do my test results mean?
  • Are my blood pressure numbers within a normal range?
  • What is the difference between good and bad cholesterol and what should my levels be?
  • What are some of the available treatments for my heart disease-related condition?
  • What are the possible side effects of the medications I've been prescribed?

Questions to Reduce Your Risk

  • What are my risk factors for heart disease?
  • What sort of plan do you recommend for me to lower my risk?
  • Do I need to lose or gain weight for my health? 
  • What is a healthful eating plan for me?
  • What kind of physical exercise is right for me?
  • Can you help me plan a safe weight loss and exercise program?
  • How does smoking affect my heart?

Questions for Women

It is important to know how heart disease manifests differently in women. Use these questions to begin a meaningful dialogue between you and your healthcare provider about heart disease.

  • How do warning signs of heart disease differ for men and women?
  • How will menopause affect my heart?
  • What kinds of tests are used to diagnose heart disease? Which ones are most appropriate for women?

Questions for Young Athletes 

These questions are not for the doctor. Rather, young athletes who answer “yes” to any of the questions below should see a heart doctor about reducing their risk for Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA).

Patient History:

  • Have you passed out when startled, during exercise, or when feeling an emotion?
  • Have you fainted or passed out after exercise?
  • Have you had extreme fatigue associated with exercise?
  • Have you had unusual or extreme shortness of breath during exercise?
  • Have you had discomfort, pain or pressure in your chest during exercise?
  • Have you been diagnosed with an unexplained seizure disorder?

Family History:

  • Has there been an unexpected or unexplained death (includes SIDS, car accident, drowning, others) before age 50 in your family?
  • Has someone in your family died of a heart problem before age 50?
  • Has someone in your family had unexplained fainting or seizures?

Related Resources

Download educational documents and presentations:

Read related health topic articles:

Get more facts about heart disease risk factors and prevention from:

More resources

This information is not a substitute for medical care. Please consult a doctor or health care provider.

Print Questions to Bring to Your Doctor

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What's Your Risk

Use our assessment tool to find out if you're at risk for developing heart disease.

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Who's at Risk

Certain populations are at a greater risk for heart disease.

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