Are you feeling chest pain or discomfort? Shortness of breath? Pain or discomfort in your arms or shoulder? Feeling weak, light-headed or faint? Then, STOP READING! CALL 9-1-1 NOW!
However, if you or your family physician thinks you may have a non-urgent heart problem, finish reading these tips on finding the best Cardiologist for you.
Remember, that a cardiologist is not a heart surgeon.
“Cardiologists receive extensive education. Four years of medical school, three years of general internal medicine training and three or more years in specialized heart training,” says McLeod Cardiologist Thomas L. Stoughton, MD, FACC, FACP. “We conduct diagnostic tests such as cardiac catheterizations, and procedures such as angioplasty.
Your cardiologist will help you decide if you need a surgeon for a bypass or other heart operation.”
So, let’s start with our tips:
CONVENIENCE. Select a cardiologist whose office is convenient. The hospital, where any tests may be performed, should also be convenient. It does not necessarily have to be the closest to you. With a heart problem, you will be making numerous trips to the doctor’s office. It should not require a day’s drive to see a good cardiologist.
CREDENTIALS. A cardiologist is called a subspecialist, trained in heart and cardiac care. Check to see that a cardiologist is “board-certified” by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Even better is the designation as a “fellow” of the American College of Cardiology, often seen as the letters “FACC,” following the cardiologist’s name. Finally, make sure the cardiologist is on the medical staff of a hospital with which you are comfortable. At some point, you will likely have tests or procedures at this hospital.
COVERAGE. In today’s world, we can not really afford to seek much health care if our insurance does not cover the procedure, the doctor, or the hospital where the doctor is on staff. Check with your health insurer or their web site.
COMMUNITY. Once you have selected a “short list” of possible cardiologists, talk with the people in your community — people you know. Do they know anything about the cardiologists and hospitals on your list?
COMMUNICATION. Choose a cardiologist who communicates well with you. Good medical care requires two-way communication. When you ask a question, the specialist should answer without making you feel dumb for asking or confuse you with complicated medical terms. When you are in the exam room, you should feel as though you are truly the focus of his or her attention.
Finally, if you choose a cardiologist and then determine you are not comfortable with your choice, you have the right to select another physician. Just use the 5 “C’s” and start the process again – using what you’ve learned.
Sources for this article include, but are not limited to: McLeod Health, American College of Cardiology, Harvard Health Publications, eHow.com, Health.com, Centers for Disease Control