Hearing from your doctor that you have “heart failure” can be daunting and scary. It might make you think your heart is about to stop working and there’s nothing that can be done. What it really means, however, it that your heart isn’t working as well as it should. If you’re on the receiving end of this diagnosis – have heart, get educated and take action.
To start, there are several different types of heart failure and they require different treatments. It’s important to get a clear understanding of what type you have and what treatments apply to you. Treatments may be any combination of medications, lifestyle changes, and devices or surgical procedures.
You will likely be working with several healthcare providers that will make up your healthcare team. Members of your team may include: your primary care doctor, cardiologist, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, physical and occupational therapists, dieticians, case managers and pharmacists. It’s important to develop good relationships with all members of your healthcare team. Talk to them openly and honestly. Keep them informed about symptoms or changes in your condition so that they can help you. And remember, you and your caregivers are also essential members of your healthcare team.
Good communication with your healthcare team can help you get the most out of your doctor’s visits. Knowing what questions to ask and understanding what your healthcare provider is saying can help you feel confident that you’re getting the best care.
Here are some tips for communicating with your healthcare team:
- Be prepared: Bring a list of all medicines you’re taking to the appointment. Make a list of your current symptoms. Try to describe how you feel and any changes in your condition. Write down your concerns and questions.
- Ask questions: Making the right decisions for you starts with asking questions. Take notes or record your conversation so that you can review the information later. It’s often helpful to bring someone with you to be an extra pair of eyes and ears and help with note taking.
- Clarify what you hear: If the information you receive from your healthcare team is unclear, ask them to use simpler words or explain it in a different way. Then repeat what you’ve heard back to them in your own words to make sure you’ve understood correctly.
Although living with a chronic condition like heart failure can be challenging, many people learn to manage the condition and enjoy full and meaningful lives. Living your best life lies in your hands. Educate yourself, take charge of the things you can control, and lean into the support of your loved ones and healthcare team.
For a detailed list of questions to ask at your doctor’s appointments, contact Cathy Abreu at 908-528-3977 or Cathy@NavitaHealth.com