you believe you may have a heart problem, contact your primary care physician.
Following a preliminary evaluation, and based on their findings, they may refer
you to a cardiologist, who is a
specialist in heart problems. If you suffer from a heart problem, a
cardiologist will guide you through your treatment and monitor your progress.
is the study of the heart and blood vessels. Cardiologists can diagnose and treat
heart attacks, heart failure, and heart rhythm disturbances. They also are
involved during procedures such as cardiac catheterization, balloon
angioplasty, and heart surgery.
you don’t have to wait until you have a problem to visit a cardiologist. You
should see a cardiologist if you have or if you’re at risk for heart disease. Your
cardiologist will collaborate with your doctor
to determine how best to manage your cardiac disease. Your cardiologist will
help with day-to-day management of your condition, come up with a treatment
plan, run tests, and perform any procedures that are needed.
What to Look for in a Cardiologist
Your doctor can recommend
a cardiologist to you. Be sure the cardiologist accepts payments from your
insurance company before making an appointment. Also, check to see if they’re
board certified. Specialists who are board certified are expected to provide a
certain level of quality care. You may want to look for a cardiologist who is
affiliated with a medical school or teaching hospital.
You may wish to choose
a cardiologist who specializes in your problem area. If possible, try to see a
cardiologist who is connected to a larger institution, like a university or
hospital. That way, if you have a complex issue, they can consult with other doctors who might have expertise in a
subspecialty area of cardiology.
Questions to Ask
Even if a
cardiologist has all the credentials you need, be sure the doctor will have
time for you as a patient. Doctor availability is important, and it should be
easy for you to make appointments and to call if you have an emergency. You and
your cardiologist should have the same philosophy about treatment of your
disease and handling your aftercare.
Your doctor needs to
understand your family history and lifestyle so they can determine your risk
for heart disease and make recommendations to reduce the risks. It’s important
to ask your doctor questions about your disease and the risks associated with
it. The following questions will give you an idea of what to ask:
- How will you determine my risk for heart
disease? What screening and diagnostic tests will you conduct?
- What is my heart disease risk and how will it
change over the next 10 years?
- How does my family history affect my risk for
- Should I see a dietician to help develop a
- How often should I schedule check ups for my
Coping, Support, and Resources
If you’ve been hospitalized for a cardiac event
or for a diagnostic evaluation or procedure, your doctor will work with you to
develop an aftercare plan. You may continue to take prescribed medication and
you may need to improve your diet, quit smoking, get regular exercise, and
maintain a healthy weight. You may also need to begin a program of cardiac
rehabilitation that will give you the training to maintain a healthy life.
Support groups can help you work through any
depression or anxiety you may have. It’s important to make doctor’s appointments
to follow up on your care. Regular checkups will let the doctor make treatment
changes that are needed and address any
new problems as quickly as possible.