Communicating With Your Advanced Heart Failure Healthcare Team

Making the right decisions starts with asking questions

Good communication with your healthcare team can help you get the most out of your doctor's visits. Knowing what questions to ask and understanding what your healthcare provider is saying can help you feel confident that you're getting the best care.

Communication is also the core of shared decision-making in advanced heart failure. You and your doctor should discuss your preferences and goals and which treatments or care options best match those goals.

Advanced heart failure patients should tell their healthcare team that they want to have these talks. When you do, tough decisions can be made with open and honest dialogue.

Heart Failure: Partnering in Your Treatment PDF

Download Partnering in your treatment: questions to ask your doctor (PDF)

Here are tips for communicating with your healthcare team:

  • Be prepared: Make the most of appointments with your healthcare team by preparing beforehand. Bring a list of all medicines you're taking to the appointment. Make a list of your current symptoms. Try to articulate how you feel and any changes in your condition. Write down your concerns and questions.
  • Ask questions: Making the right decisions for you starts with asking questions. Take notes or record your conversation so that you can review the information later, or share it with friends and family members. Consider these questions:
    • Will you talk openly and honestly with me about my condition?
    • Will you help me make decisions about my care that match my preferences and goals?
    • What can I expect in the future in terms of symptoms and outlook?
    • What treatment and care decisions do I need to make based on my current situation?
    • What decisions do I need to make about future therapies or interventions?
    • What are the potential benefits of the recommended treatment options? What are the risks and burdens of each option?
    • Can we set up an annual talk to review my goals and treatment decisions, both looking back and looking forward?
  • Clarify what you hear: If the information you receive from the healthcare team is unclear, ask them to use simpler words or explain it in a different way. Then repeat what you've heard back to them in your own words.

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