Important Questions to Ask Your Cardiologist About Chest Pain

Key Questions for Your Cardiologist

Sudden or sharp chest pain may not always be an indication of a serious condition, but it is almost always a very scary experience that should not be taken lightly. Even if the cause ends up being benign, it’s important to get proper medical attention as soon as possible; if the cause is a heart attack or a stroke, every minute counts.

When it comes to your heart health and chest pain, it never pays to neglect pain or unusual symptoms, but it is always worth it to ask the right questions. At Colorado Springs Cardiology, we believe in both patient-centric care and patient education. We care for your heart, but we also care for you, and we encourage all of our patients to share any questions or concerns they may have about their cardiovascular health. Our team of experts specializes in diagnosing, treating, and managing a broad array of cardiovascular conditions, so not only can we help you identify the cause of your chest pain, but we can provide you with advanced technologies, procedures, and treatment plans to ensure the most positive outcomes possible.

A doctor sits at a desk with a patient discussing their health

At Colorado Springs Cardiology, we’re more than a trusted source of information regarding your chest pain; we’re your partner in comprehensive cardiovascular health. If you are experiencing chest pain, the following questions can help you ask for the care you deserve with confidence.

8 Things to Ask Your Cardiologist About if You Have Chest Pain

1. The Type of Chest Pain

There are different reasons you may be having chest pain. Depending on your symptoms, your doctor can help you understand what sort of pain you are having and why. It’s important to note that a heart attack is not the only condition that may cause pain in your chest. Some other causes include muscle strain, indigestion, a rib injury, or pneumonia. There are some types of chest pains, like angina, which indicate an underlying heart condition, but do not mean you are currently having a heart attack.

Here are some questions to ask your doctor that can help you understand the type of pain you are having.

  • What could be causing my chest pain?
  • Are there specific characteristics of chest pain that suggest a heart problem?
  • Is my chest pain related to heart disease or another condition?

2. Your Immediate Care and Safety Needs

When experiencing chest pain, an immediate thought is about the possibility of it being a heart attack. Heart-attack-related pains very often come on suddenly and don’t go away. They also may come with other symptoms such as shortness of breath or lightheadedness, pain in your neck or arms, or sweating without an apparent cause.

If you experience chest pain that lingers for more than a few minutes or comes with other symptoms, it’s best to seek immediate care. While it may end up having a different cause, it’s important to go for help. 

When speaking to your doctor about the causes of the pains in your chest, the following are questions to help you understand the severity, your risks for it happening again, and whether your pain could be a sign of a cardiovascular problem.

  • Should I be concerned about a heart attack?
  • What should I do if my chest pain occurs again?
  • Are there signs or symptoms that should prompt me to seek emergency care?

3. Diagnosing Your Chest Pain

When you visit your doctor, they will likely explain that you need some diagnostic tests to determine the cause of your chest pain. These tests are key in ruling out any immediate threat to your health and will help you in getting the right treatment.

There are many different tests your doctor may use to diagnose your chest pain. They may begin with an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) to measure your heart’s electrical activity. Your doctor may also order blood work to look for evidence of a heart attack or infection. A chest X-ray will show the condition of your lungs and the size of your heart and blood vessels or reveal conditions such as a collapsed lung or pneumonia. Other tests may include a CT scan, echocardiogram, or stress tests.

Some questions to help prepare you for determining the cause of your chest pain include:

  • What tests do I need to determine the cause of my chest pain?
  • How do these tests work, and what will they tell us?
  • Are there any risks or preparations required for these tests?

4. Treatment Options for Your Chest Pain

There are many options for treating chest pain, depending on the source. If your chest pain is related to heart issues, some treatments include medication to thin the blood or break apart clots or blockages. Your doctor may also recommend catheterization or surgery.

For other types of chest pain that aren’t related to the heart, the treatment may depend upon what the diagnosis is. When the cause of pain is from an illness like pneumonia or other infection, you may be prescribed antibiotics or other medications. If you have a rib injury or muscle strain, you’ll be treated for the injury and told how you can best recover. Many times chest pain can be from gas or acid reflux, and there are medications that can help control them and prevent pain in the future.

Some questions to ask your doctor about treatment options for your chest pain are:

  • What treatment options are available for my condition?
  • Will I need medication, and if so, what are the possible side effects?
  • Is there a possibility that I might need a procedure or surgery?

5. The Impact of Lifestyle Choices and Risk Factors on Your Chest Pain

After diagnostic testing, if your doctor indicates that your chest pain is cardiovascular, you should ask how that might impact your lifestyle. Many types of heart disease can be affected by lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, eating a good diet, exercising, and managing stress. These can make a positive difference and reduce your risk of further cardiac events or pain.

Your doctor can advise you on activities that are safe for you to add to your daily routine such as the frequency and type of exercise that will be beneficial for you or the types of healthy meals to include. A healthy diet will help lower your cholesterol levels and may help you to lose weight, both of which are important for controlling heart disease. There also may be activities you should avoid so as not to cause further chest pain or problems. 

To help with this conversation, the following are questions to ask your doctor:

  • Are there lifestyle changes I can make to alleviate my chest pain or reduce the risk of heart disease?
  • How does diet, exercise, and stress management affect my condition?
  • Should I avoid any specific activities that could trigger my chest pain?

6. Monitoring and Managing Your Chest Pain

Monitoring your chest pain will help you to note the frequency of your pain and any changes in your symptoms or the appearance of any new ones. Things to be aware of are symptoms such as dizziness or lightheadedness, increased or different chest pain, pain in other areas such as your arms, neck, back, or stomach, or shortness of breath. These could be symptoms that something more serious is occurring.

Your doctor may schedule follow-up testing to measure the effectiveness of any treatments or prescribed medication. Other ways to monitor your pain is to note when it occurs and what you may have been doing. Keeping track of the foods you eat and activities you do can help with diagnosing the cause of your chest pain or determining how well your treatment is working.

Some questions to ask your doctor about managing and/or monitoring your chest pain are:

  • How should I monitor my condition at home?
  • What follow-up appointments or tests will be necessary?
  • How will we assess the effectiveness of the treatment?

7. Medications for Your Chest Pain

Often your doctor may prescribe one or more medications to help treat your chest pain, whether for more immediate pain relief or for treatment, recovery, or prevention. It’s important to understand what the medicine is for and how it should be taken. Some medicines are taken before a meal and some after, while some medications cannot be taken together. You also must be aware of any side effects to watch out for. Some are common and may not be serious, but others may lead your doctor to prescribe something different.

You also should tell your doctor of all medications you are currently taking, including over-the-counter ones and any vitamins or supplements. They must have a complete picture so as not to prescribe a medication that will interact negatively with others and cause you harm.

If you are prescribed medication, be sure to ask the following questions:

  • How should it be taken?
  • What are the possible interactions with other medications I am on?
  • Are there any side effects I should watch for?

8. Future Care and Prevention of Your Chest Pain

Understanding how to manage your health going forward is essential, especially when dealing with heart-related issues. Taking proactive steps towards prevention can significantly reduce the risk of recurring problems and help you maintain a good quality of life. Your cardiologist can provide personalized advice based on your specific condition, lifestyle, and risk factors.

In conversations with your doctor, you’ll want to discuss long-term management and prevention strategies. Be sure to ask about medication, lifestyle changes, and how to recognize early warning signs of potential issues. In partnership with your healthcare provider, you can work to improve your health and prevent further heart problems.

Some questions to ask when talking to your doctor about your health for the future include:

  • How can I prevent further heart problems?
  • What symptoms should alert me to return or call you?
  • Are there long-term risks associated with my type of chest pain?

Colorado Springs Cardiology: Your Partner in Understanding Chest Pain

Chest pain and heart health issues can cause worry, stress, and anxiety, but you don’t have to face them alone. With the right care and expertise, you can take significant strides towards better heart health and a full, vibrant life.

 At Colorado Springs Cardiology, our multidisciplinary team of specialists and staff works with you to identify and treat the underlying problems of your chest pain, not just alleviate the symptoms. We value open and honest communication with our patients in order to develop the most effective personalized treatment plans tailored to your unique needs. When you are prepared with questions, we can provide better answers for sustainable pathways to long-term health that you can be invested in. 

If you’re experiencing chest pain or any heart-related issues, don’t wait for them to become more serious. Schedule an appointment with Colorado Springs Cardiology today and discover the difference comprehensive, whole-patient care can make.