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Risk Factors for Heart Disease in Women

Women, Heart Disease, and Healthcare Providers

A crucial step in determining your heart disease risk is to see your doctor for a thorough checkup. Your physician can be an important partner in helping you set and reach goals for heart health. But don't wait for your physician to mention heart disease or its risk factors. Many doctors don't routinely bring up the subject with female patients. Here are some tips for establishing good, clear communication between you and your doctor:
  • Speak up. Tell your doctor you want to keep your heart healthy and would like help in achieving that goal. Ask questions about your chances of developing heart disease and how you can lower your risk. Also, ask for tests that will determine your personal risk factors.
  • Keep tabs on treatment. If you are already being treated for heart disease or heart disease risk factors, ask your doctor to review your treatment plan with you. Ask: "Is what I'm doing in line with the latest recommendations? Are my treatments working? Are my risk factors under control?" If your doctor recommends a medical procedure, ask about its benefits and risks. Find out if you will need to be hospitalized and for how long, and what to expect during the recovery period.
  • Be open. When your doctor asks you questions, answer as honestly and fully as you can. While certain topics may seem quite personal, discussing them openly can help your doctor find out your chances of developing heart disease. It can also help your doctor work with you to reduce your risk. If you already have heart disease, briefly describe each of your symptoms. Specify when each symptom started, how often it occurs, and whether or not it has been getting worse.
  • Keep it simple. If you don't understand something your doctor says, ask for an explanation in simple language. Be especially sure you understand how to take any medication you are given. If you are worried about understanding what the doctor says, or if you have trouble hearing, bring a friend or relative with you to your appointment. You may want to ask that person to write down the doctor's instructions for you.
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