It’s normal to feel a little anxious before your first appointment with your cardiologist. At the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Heart & Vascular Center, we’re here to put your mind at ease.
Our cardiologists and their teams provide expert care for all types of heart disease. With advanced training and years of experience, we have the expertise to diagnose and treat the rarest, most complex cases.
Your Cardiologist Appointment at Barnes-Jewish Heart & Vascular Center
Some simple preparation can help you get the most out of your cardiologist appointment. If you have questions about anything, please contact your care team. We are looking forward to becoming your trusted partner for your heart health.
Getting to Barnes-Jewish Hospital
Find our locations, directions, parking details and other information for your visit:
What to do on the day of your visit
Your care team will explain details about what you need to do. In general, we recommend that you:
- Take all your medications as prescribed, unless your care team has given you other instructions.
- Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes. We may ask you to loosen your clothing or change into a hospital gown.
- Arrive a few minutes early for your first appointment so you have plenty of time to fill out any paperwork.
- Bring a family member or friend to help you by taking notes or asking questions.
- At the end of your appointment, ask your care team for the phone number to call if you have questions. Find out how often and when you should follow up with them.
What to bring to your appointment
Your care team usually gathers your medical records before your appointment. We recommend that you bring:
- your photo ID, health insurance cards and copayment
- paper and a pen or pencil to write down information from your care team
- a list of your medications or the medication containers, including any vitamins or supplements you take
- a list of your health care providers, including your primary care provider and other specialists such as endocrinologists, dentists or chiropractors
- your personal and family medical history
- notes about your recent symptoms, with details such as when they happen, how long they last, and whether anything makes them worse or better
- medical records or copies of previous tests, if we haven’t already received them
Seeing your cardiologist: What to expect
Once you’ve arrived and checked in, here’s what to expect during your appointment:
- Your first appointment may last up to an hour.
- You may first see a nurse practitioner, who takes your blood pressure, weighs you and asks you some general health questions.
- Your cardiologist asks you more specific questions about your medical history, symptoms and other details.
- You’ll have a physical exam, and your cardiologist may recommend tests, if needed, to confirm a diagnosis. Usually, you’ll schedule tests for another day. Read more about our diagnostic testing for heart disease.
- Your cardiologist explains any findings from their evaluation and answers your questions. We discuss recommendations for the next steps in your care, such as follow-up visits, tests or treatment.
Questions to Ask Your Cardiologist
You might find it helpful to write down or print out these questions to ask your cardiologist and care team during your appointment.
Questions about heart disease risk
Whether you already have a diagnosis or need an evaluation for symptoms, understanding your heart disease risk factors is important. Questions to find out more about risk factors and prevention include:
- What are my specific risk factors for heart disease?
- What can I do to lower my risk of heart disease?
- How do things like my age, weight and smoking affect my risk?
- What type of exercise should I be doing?
- What types of foods should I be eating? Which should I avoid?
- What should my cholesterol levels be? What is the difference between good and bad cholesterol?
- For women: How will menopause affect my heart?
Questions about heart tests
Your cardiologist reviews your previous test results and information, and sometimes, you may need additional tests. Questions to ask about testing include:
- What is the test for?
- What are the risks of the test?
- What does the test involve?
- Can I have the test today? If not, when should I schedule it for?
- When will I get the results?
Questions about a diagnosis
When we confirm a diagnosis, we explain the details to you, along with our recommendations for next steps. Questions to ask about a diagnosis include:
- What is my specific diagnosis? If you do not understand, ask your doctor to explain in terms you can understand.
- What does it mean for me or my family?
Questions about heart disease treatment options
Your care team discusses your treatment options with you to decide on a personalized plan for you. Questions to ask about treatment include:
- Why do I need this treatment?
- What are the possible risks and benefits of this treatment?
- Are there any alternatives?
- How do my medications work?
- What side effects might I experience?
- How often and when should I take my medication?
- Do I need to change my diet or be aware of interactions with over-the-counter medications?
To make an appointment with a Washington University cardiologist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, call 314-362-1291.