Should I be seeing my GP more after my heart attack?

GP stethoscope and calendar planning appointments

I’m worried my GP has forgotten about me. I had a heart attack, did cardiac rehabilitation, had a six-week check-up at hospital and was discharged into the GP’s care two years ago. Since then, I’ve arranged two cholesterol check-ups myself. Should I be getting more follow-up care from my GP? 

Dr Mike Knapton replies:

Anyone who has had a heart attack needs both cardiac rehabilitation and regular follow-up by a GP or experienced practice nurse. This should include annual blood pressure checks, a blood test (for cholesterol and kidney function) and a review of your medication. It’s also an opportunity to discuss any other concerns.

Think about making a routine appointment around the time of your birthday each year to help you remember

Ideally, you can arrange blood tests in advance of your GP appointment, and take your own blood pressure at home with a portable monitor and keep a diary of the readings. This will help you and your doctor make the most of the follow up appointment as all the data you need will have already been collected, leaving more time to discuss your health.

For most patients an annual check-up is appropriate, though some people need more frequent check-ups, for instance if your condition is unstable or you have recently changed medication. I suggest that at your next GP visit, you discuss how often you need a routine check-up and how to organise blood tests in advance.

Some surgeries have an automatic recall system to remind you when your check-up is due, though this does not suit everyone. Think about making a routine appointment around the time of your birthday each year to help you remember.

Mike KnaptonMeet the expert

Dr Mike Knapton is Associate Medical Director (Prevention and Care) at the BHF, overseeing the strategic role in helping patients and the public reduce their risk of heart disease. He was a GP for 30 years and is a director at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge.

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