Talking to your doctor about heart disease

Your doctor is a valuable partner in the fight against heart disease. To get the most from your doctor's visit:

Be prepared for your doctor's questions

Before your visit, gather the details of your medical and family history and make a list of any medications you may be taking. This will help your doctor assess your heart disease risk and develop a treatment plan.

Bring a list of questions to ask

Before your visit, write down a list of questions to ask the doctor. Here are a few to get you started:

  1. What is my risk of developing heart disease in the next 10 years?
  2. What are my risk factors for heart disease and what can I do to change them?
  3. Should I have my cholesterol levels checked?
  4. What are my target cholesterol levels? The main target cholesterol levels to ask your doctor about is LDL-C ("bad" cholesterol). Regardless of your level of heart disease risk, the goal is to lower your LDL-C by at least 50%. Your doctor can determine what that specific number should be for you. Your doctor may also recommend other cholesterol targets.
  5. Should I have my CRP levels tested? (To learn more about CRP testing, read "What is the CRP test?" in this feature)
  6. What does the latest research say about ways to lower CRP levels, cholesterol levels, and the risk of developing heart disease?
  7. What lifestyle changes should I make?
  8. Do I need to take any medications or change my medication regimen?

Take notes

Bring a pen and paper to take notes during your visit. You may want to bring a friend or family member to help you recall the information the doctor provided during your visit. If you are not sure about anything your doctor says, ask your doctor to explain it again (sometimes, explaining it in a different way can help).

Let's recap...

CRP, a marker of inflammation in the body, is a stronger predictor of heart disease risk than is LDL-C. CRP tests can help the doctor assess your risk of developing heart disease, but it's also important to continue getting your cholesterol tested. Your LDL-C level is also a predictor of heart disease, so knowing whether you are at your target levels can help you reduce your risk of developing heart disease. When it comes to CRP and LDL-C levels, the lower the better!

Cholesterol and CRP tests can help your doctor advise you on what you can do to lower your risk of developing heart disease. If you have had these tests, ask your doctor what the results mean and what you can do to reduce your levels.

Your doctor can recommend a treatment plan that you should stick with, including healthy lifestyle changes (with or without medications), to reduce your levels and your risk of developing heart disease.

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