From an interview with
Dr. Alan Blaker
McLeod Cardiology Associates
Cardiologists, who medically treat and perform some cardiac-related procedures, are an important specialty for heart patients. Yet at McLeod, cardiologists are just one part of a much larger team of heart and vascular specialists, as explained by McLeod Cardiologist Dr. Alan Blaker.
Here are highlights of Dr. Blaker’s explanation:
One of the reasons that we began working as a Heart and Vascular Institute had to do with a team approach to care. Patients often don’t just have blockages in their heart, and they need to be seen by someone other than a cardiologist.
Open heart surgery is performed by cardiothoracic surgeons not cardiologists. But we work very closely with our cardiothoracic surgeons and thoracic surgeon (who handles items related to the lungs, such as lung cancer or esophageal problems). In addition, we have patients that frequently have peripheral vascular disease. So, in our heart and vascular institute, we also work closely with our vascular surgeons. They help us manage diseases related to the peripheral arteries (in the arms and legs), the aorta or the venous systems (varicose veins).
Years ago, we found that a team approach to care is the best way to help patients manage their disease process. Frequently, patients will go through different stages of their disease. It may be stable for a while. Then, they develop unstable symptoms related to the heart or their vascular disease. Then, surgery is required, including insertion of balloons or stents in blocked arteries. Frequently, we also involve other physicians, such as hospitalists (who practice only in the hospital), endocrinologists or kidney specialists, because our patients have more than one disease process.
We involve every different specialty that the patient might need to help improve their prognosis, response to treatment and their quality of life. The patient benefits from a team working together to manage health problems that interact with each other, such as lipid abnormalities, thyroid problems, uncontrolled diabetes or high blood pressure. The team approach to care also involves working closely with the primary care doctor for the patient’s compliance with recommended medications or treatments. Again, the patient benefits, because we’re not just looking at a single area of their health. We’re trying to look at multiple areas of their health to improve their ability to live longer with a better quality of life.
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