What to expect when diagnosed with heart problems.

When you find out you need to see a heart specialist, you might have mixed feelings about this. In the feels you might not know what to expect, this can add stress. If you have the not so calm route of ending up in hospital due to your heart not being right, this can be a bit more scary. Take a breath (even a small one if that is all you can do) grab your beverage to enjoy as you read. Relaxing is very important when you’re learning to live with heart health.

Human heart with arteries

If you did not start at a hospital with your heart, sometimes you have symptoms, sometimes they find it because of other things. The Doctor, General Practitioner or Cardiologist might order blood work. Sometimes they want to have you fast for 8 to 10 hours prior to getting the blood work done. Fasting means nothing but water, no candies, food or gum for the time before the blood work. It is best to ask if it will be fasting, not all blood work needed for heart diagnosing is fasting.

If you have an arrhythmia (abnormal heart beat) they may want you to do an ECG or wear a holter. An ECG/EKG can be done in the office or at the hospital. A holter is a device you are sent home with for the time they think it will take to detect the problem. Special instructions will come with wearing the holter. Like no showers, baths or getting them wet when you are hooked up. They start with 24 hours and sometimes the doctors need you to do them for more time.

Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)

A stress test is another test that is ordered when doing a diagnostics. A stress test is a supervised test that asks you to wear activewear and a loose fitting top or one that buttons up in the front. This is because they will need to put a wire harness on you that is hooked to the monitor. This will show them what your heart is doing when you’re active. You might be wondering what else happens when you’re doing a stress test. You will be on a treadmill that starts slow and then slowly raises speed and inclines. It can be a little scary or weird, the techs let you know what things are going to change. Most have two bars to hold on to. There are side bars and a front bar. Do your best, talk to the technician and share how you’re doing. If you have any fears or physical changes please let your technician/doctor know. You will also be wearing a blood pressure cuff to see how your blood pressure is as you’re being

Photo of the stress test

There are other ways to test and look at your heart. There are many forms of imaging, they can do ultrasounds, CT scans, MRI, Arthrography. Some of this group of tests can involve contrast dyes that need to be injected. If you need a test with dyes there will be lots of instructions, please read over the instructions for your test. If dyes are used, drink lots of water before and after to help flush the dyes out of your body. They need to put the dye in through an IV( Intervascular treatment). They may also do a Oxygen (O2 sensor) reading with a little monitor that goes on the end of your finger.

If you have learned about your heart problem due to ending up in hospital. You might be confused or healing. So your cardiologist might be doing healing and restorative management. You may be having to take medications, or doing a follow up after surgery. You may have had parts replaced, parts fixed or improved with stints, new valves or a pacemaker. If you are in a place of recovery or discovery you need to take in the special instructions. You have a new chance at living a healthier life with a happier heart. It will be a lot of change and hard work. Sometimes you might need to rest more, be off work, change your eating and exercise habits. You might need to check your blood pressure at home more then once a day. You may be referred to a heart health group. Keep notes on how you feel, time of meds and blood pressure readings.

When you see your doctor they might use a stethoscope or other equipment to explore what is going on. They might listen to the arteries in your neck and hear how the heart sounds. They are trained to know about arteries that go in to your heart through your arms legs and neck. Please bring many questions. Talk about medications and other life changes that might be needed. 

If you have had surgery you might need to wait a bit to be in a tub, shower or other water. Always let your doctor know any herbs, vitamins or alternative over the counter medicine or supplements. There are many things including grapefruits that have dangerous side effects when you have a heart or other medical condition.

Try to reduce your stress, rest when you need to, even doing small things that you think are ok and easy might be more tiring and more of a struggle then you thought. Be kind to yourself. Asking for help is safe and ok. Your health is worth it. Your body will let you know. You might struggle getting out of bed or the short walk to the bathroom. Laundry can be hell. Putting wet stuff from the washer to the dryer can be too much strain. You might have a time of not driving. 

Take time to relax and learn to breath.

You may have dealt with heart health with yourself or others. If you have not ever experienced hearth complications here are some warning signs.

  • Fatigue or weakness.
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness.
  • Fainting or near-fainting spells.
  • Rapid heartbeat or pounding in the chest.
  • Shortness of breath and anxiety.
  • Chest pain or pressure.
  • In extreme cases, collapse and sudden cardiac arrest.

When you are having heart symptoms they don’t have to be dramatic and noticeable. They could be subtle like feeling off or like you ate bad food with may be a heavy arm. Many people brush it off and go to bed with some digestive aids. Please call a medical adviser or 911 or Emergency number in your area if you have the following

  • Chest pain or discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center or left side of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes or that goes away and comes back. The discomfort can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.
  • Feeling weak, light-headed, or faint. You may also break out into a cold sweat.
  • Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back.
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms or shoulders.
  • Shortness of breath. This often comes along with chest discomfort, but shortness of breath also can happen before chest discomfort.

Please read this heart attack link. gives you a check list for males and females, symptoms can really differ. Other symptoms of a heart attack could include unusual or unexplained tiredness and nausea or vomiting. Women are more likely to have these other symptoms. Learn more about women and heart disease. My female family member was not even 60 when they had a heart attack, they felt off with symptoms that did not fit what they thought a heart attack looked like.

I hope you and your family stay healthy. If this means learning to live life with new hearth challenges. I hope you have a supportive community outreach program. Feel free to share your exspeances

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