What to Expect During Your First Visit to a Cardiologist
It is normal to be hesitant or unsure every time you meet with a new physician, especially when it comes to something as important as heart health. Here, we will discuss everything you can expect from your first visit with a cardiologist and explain the steps you can take to make your appointment go more smoothly for you and the doctor.
For one reason or another, you have been told you need to see a cardiologist. Maybe you have been having symptoms that warrant a visit to the specialist. Perhaps your upcoming visit is more precautionary due to a family history of heart disease. Regardless of why you’ve made an appointment, you likely want to know what you should expect.
Arrive Early to the Cardiologist
When you are planning your first visit to the cardiologist, be sure to plan on an early arrival. Being at least 15 minutes early will make the visit easier for you and the office staff. Here are a few reasons why showing up early is important:
- Filling out paperwork may take time which could hold up the staff and the doctor.
- The cardiologist may have had a cancellation making it possible to see you sooner.
- Other patients may be waiting, and late arrivals may cause their appointment to be late as well.
- Office staff may have questions about insurance or past tests they need to locate.
- If you have never been to the office, you may need time to find it.
Showing up early to your first cardiologist appointment does not guarantee you will be seen on time or that your visit will be quick. It only helps give a buffer between the time that you arrive and the time they are expecting you. This buffer allows for anything unexpected that might come up.
Meeting with the Nurse
At most doctors’ appointments, the patient will meet with the nurse first. This is when vitals are checked. The nurse will also ask general questions and help fill out any patient information needed before the cardiologist comes in. The nurse’s responsibilities may include:
- Checking blood pressure
- Weighing the patient
- Making notes about current medications
- Enquiring about the reason for the visit
- Asking about personal and family health history
This is a crucial step in meeting with a cardiologist for the first time. These questions will help the doctor better understand what she or he can do for you. It also helps the doctor know what tests may be needed to help diagnose or resolve health problems.
Meeting with the Cardiologist
Once all the prerequisite information is gathered, you will meet your cardiologist. Sometimes this is done in their office at a desk. Other times they may meet you in a patient room. This will depend on the reason for the visit and whether or not the doctor wants to examine you. Some patients may meet their cardiologist at the hospital. This is nothing to worry about as the doctor may prefer to meet with you in a place where all tests can be run. This can save you time and money. Here are some of the diagnostic tests a cardiologist might order:
- Blood tests
- Stress test (on the treadmill)
- Non-stress test (sitting in a chair)
- Nuclear stress test or echo stress test
- CT, PET, or MRI scan
- Coronary angiogram
Depending on the reason for the visit, your cardiologist may require more tests or information. Remember that she or he is there to help you regain or maintain a healthy heart. Their goal will be to help you, so any information you can offer will help them help you faster.
Ending the Appointment
At the end of your appointment, be sure that you understand any instructions you have been given. If you were given a prescription or instructed to change your medication in any way, be sure that you understand them. You must know what you need to do after leaving the cardiologist’s office.
You may also be asked to gather more information for a future visit. If this is the case, be sure to get that information to the office as soon as possible to speed things along. If you are given referrals for additional labs or tests, take action after leaving the office. Most labs and testing facilities are busy. The sooner you make the call, the sooner you will be able to complete these tests.
If any follow-up appointments are needed, try to schedule them before leaving your cardiologist. This can make things much easier for you and the office staff. Most specialists are booked well into the future, so make sure you get your name on the schedule.
It is normal to feel a little nervous before you meet with a cardiologist. Remember, your heart is important to them. They know how much this visit means for you and they will try to answer all your questions. If you need any additional advice or you want to request an appointment, contact us today.