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Heart attack - what to ask your doctor

Definition

A heart attack occurs when blood flow to a part of your heart is blocked long enough that part of the heart muscle is damaged or dies. It is sometimes called a myocardial infarction (MI).

Angina is pain or pressure in the chest that happens when your heart muscle is not getting enough blood and oxygen. You sometimes feel it in your neck or jaw. Sometimes you may notice only that your breath is short.

Below are some questions you may want to ask your doctor or nurse to help you take care of your recent heart attack.

Alternate Names

What to ask your doctor about your heart attack

Questions

What are the signs and symptoms that I am having angina? Will I always have the same symptoms?

  • What are the activities that can cause me to have angina?
  • How should I treat my chest pain or angina when it happens?
  • When should I call the doctor?
  • When should I call 911?

How much activity or exercise can I do?

  • Can I walk around the house? Is it okay to go up and down stairs? When can I start light housework or cooking? How much can I lift or carry? How much sleep do I need?
  • When I get the okay to begin exercising, where should I exercise, inside or outside? Which activities are better to start with? Are there activities or exercises that are not safe for me? Is it safe for me to exercise on my own?
  • How long and how hard can I exercise?

Do I need to have a stress test? Do I need to go to a cardiac rehabilitation program?

When can I return to work? Are there limits on what I can do at work?

What should I do if I feel sad or very worried about my heart disease?

How can I change the way I live to make my heart stronger?

  • What is a heart-healthy diet? Is it okay to ever eat something that is not heart healthy? What are some ways to eat healthy when I go to a restaurant?
  • Is it okay to drink any alcohol?
  • Is it okay to be around other people who are smoking?
  • Is my blood pressure normal?
  • What is my cholesterol? Do l need to take medicines for it?

Is it okay to be sexually active? Is it safe to use sildenafil (Viagra), vardenafil (Levitra), or tadalafil (Cialis) if I’m a man?

What medicines am I taking to treat angina?

  • Do they have any side effects?
  • What should I do if I miss a dose?
  • Is it ever safe to stop taking any of these medicines on my own?

If I am taking aspirin or clopidogrel (Plavix), is it okay to take ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), or other medicines for pain from arthritis, headaches, or other problems?


Review Date: 3/7/2009
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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