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British Heart Foundation
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What should we expect from cardiologist?

Following my first post after my husband was very unwell and had been diagnosed with AF & HF he has now been referred to a cardiologist. Funnily enough since the referral he has now picked up and looks and feels better. What I wondered was if all you kind people could tell me what I should be asking the cardiologist, what tests I should expect (all he has had is an Echocardiogram & ECG's). What I am worried about is that because he is feeling better they won't do much and then we are none the wiser.

Many thanks for helping me x

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He may be feeling better, but the Echocardiogram will tell the true story. Echos are very reliable in giving information about the heart. Your cardiologist may want to have your guy wear a holter monitor for 24 hours to get a clearer idea of long term function.

I would ask how the heart valves are functioning; any leaking of blood; are the valves too narrow; any blood clots; abnormal growths; any abnormal holes; how are the major blood arteries into and from the heart are doing;

does the lining of the heart look okay; maybe most important - what is the heart's pumping strength. How active can your guy be with his condition?

What is the recommended exercise routine? What about a diet?

I have heart failure. I have already been through all of this. In my case, my heart function was so low, and unable to tolerate any heart meds, that I had to have an ICD placement. It is great! I am able to take care of myself. Though I can't do heavy work, I am content with what I can do. Some people's heart function can be brought back close to normal, with meds, exercise, and proper diet.

Best wishes to you and your husband.

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Many thanks for all your help, he has had an echo but nobody has explained the findings. Can I ask what an ICD is please?

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An ICD is similar to an updated pacemaker. It electrically stimulates the heart to beat a normal rhythm, instead of heart going into atrial fibrillation, which a life threatening condition. The heart is constantly monitored by the device, and sends remote messages to the doctors office. This enables him/her to determine the continuing function of the device, and whether it is doing what it is supposed to do. An additional benefit, is that the ICD has a built in defibrillator which is activated when the heart has stopped beating for a specified length of time (usually determined by the cardiologist).

The device has lead wires that are threaded into the heart from the implanted ICD. It is much simpler than one might think to implant one. it is amazing what can be done nowadays with the heart.

I am sorry to hear that the results of your husbands echo has not been explained to you. You and your husband have a right to know. I can't imagine a doctor unwilling to discuss the results. Maybe if you asked him specific questions, you may get more answers. Some doctors are just not good communicators.

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Many thanks for that, it is amazing what is available

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I would recommend writing down any questions and take them with you coz you get in there and your mind goes blank then you come out and think dam I never asked this and that

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Thanks for your help

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Would echo Jaspip's advice of taking a list of questions and would recommend that your husband is always accompanied as "two heads are better than one" when it comes to recalling everything that the Consultant says. I have also found it useful to keep a 'heart diary' recording daily symptoms and how I am feeling throughout each day. All good wishes to you both at this worrying time xx

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Thank you for your help

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I write down all the questions I want to ask too. He doesn't mind at all in fact he expects it now! I always find he makes me feel very safe after I have spoken to him. I get a nice letter afterwards with any test results and summary of the appointment.

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I hope our cardiologist is like yours, I am finding lack of information the most difficult thing to cope with

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I hope so too. Good luck and don't be afraid to ask.

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