Your healthcare professional can be an important partner in helping you set and reach goals for heart health. But don’t wait for him/her to mention heart disease or its risk factors. Many healthcare professionals don't routinely bring up the topic, especially with their female patients. New research shows that women are less likely than men to receive heart healthy recommendations from their healthcare professionals.
Here is how to speak up and establish good, clear communication between you and your healthcare professional:
• ASK FOR WHAT YOU NEED
• BE OPEN
• KEEP IT SIMPLE
Getting answers to these questions will give you important information about your heart health and what you can do to improve it. Bring this list with you to your next visit with your healthcare professional.
1. What is heart disease? What is my risk for heart disease? Is heart disease hereditary?
2. What is my blood pressure? What does it mean, and what do I need to do about it?
3. What are my cholesterol numbers? (These include total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) “lousy” cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) “healthy” cholesterol, and triglycerides.) What do they mean for me and what do I need to do about them?
4. What are my body mass index (BMI) and waist measurement? Do they indicate that I need to lose weight for my health?
5. What is my blood sugar level? Does it mean I am at risk for diabetes? (pre-diabetes)
6. Insist on knowing the nature of your heart disease and the steps in diagnosis and treatment.
7. What other screening tests for heart disease do I need? How often should I return for checkups for my heart health?
8. For smokers: What can you do to help me quit smoking?
9. How much physical activity do I need to help protect my heart? What kinds of activities are helpful?
10. What is a heart healthy eating plan for me? Should I see a registered dietitian or qualified nutritionist to learn more about healthy eating?
11. How can I tell if I am having a heart attack? What should I do?
12. Make sure you understand your doctor’s instructions and follow them. If you are still uncertain about what to do when you get home, call for further clarification.