Going to the doctor once you’ve received any kind of diagnosis can be scary, confusing and completely overwhelming. Many patients are afraid to voice their confusion or simply don’t know what to ask their doctor in the first place.
In hopes of relieving some of your stress, I’m going to break down 6 of the most important questions to ask your doctor about your atrial fibrillation.
These questions will guide your conversation with your doctor and help you understand a long-term care and lifestyle plan.
What is my risk of stroke?
Risk of stroke is the most devastating consequence of having atrial fibrillation, so it’s very important for you to understand your individual risk of stroke and what would be the recommended treatment option for your specific case.
Why did I get AFib?
This can be an especially difficult question to answer, but it’s important to ask so that you understand all of your individual risk factors. There are several common risk factors for developing atrial fibrillation, including high blood pressure, diabetes, age, family history, obesity, sleep apnea and family history. Understanding your common risk factors and working to manage those risk factors can help significantly with your atrial fibrillation.
What is the condition of my heart?
Atrial fibrillation can have an effect on the overall function of the heart. It can affect the strength of the heart and its squeezing ability (ejection fraction), and be associated with other conditions such as a coronary artery disease. Atrial fibrillation and coronary artery disease often come hand-in-hand, as they are associated with similar risk factors.
Rate or Rhythm Control?
It’s important for you to understand the strategy your doctor has for managing your atrial fibrillation. Rate control would mean your doctor is prescribing medications to control the rate of your heart while you remain in atrial fibrillation. Rhythm control is a strategy that works to keep you out of AFib, which may be accomplished through medications, cardioversions or procedures. Find out which direction your doctor intends to take your treatment.
What are the medications I’m taking?
Always ask your doctor about the medications you are taking and whether or not they are the right medications for you-- and keep asking. When people are first diagnosed with atrial fibrillation they are often put on some fairly aggressive medications. Once your heart and symptoms become a little more stable, it may be worthwhile to decrease the amount of medication you are taking. This is why you want to also ask your doctor what their long-term medication plan is. A medication that was right for you at the beginning of your diagnosis may not be best as time goes on.
Can I see an Electrophysiologist?
Electrophysiologists, like myself, are the experts when it comes to atrial fibrillation. I am a strong believer in booking an early consult with an electrophysiologist during the early stages of AFib treatment. In the long run, the electrophysiologist is going to give you more treatment options and provide more long-term success in managing your AFib.
These are the important questions I believe you should ask your doctor once you are diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. Keep them in mind when you follow up with your doctor, because it’s all about strategizing the best possible treatment plan for you.