What questions should I ask my heart specialist?

Here are six questions you should ask your heart specialist:
  1. What are my options for treating my heart disease? To be informed, you’ll want all of the information you can get about your options going forward. Heart disease is a chronic, progressive disease, which means you and your doctor won’t be curing it so much as managing it and working together to control the symptoms so you can live the life you choose.
  2. Why are you recommending angioplasty or surgery for me? In some cases, your heart disease will rule out angioplasty and stenting as a treatment option. In some cases where bypass surgery is recommended, angioplasty and stenting may be an option. Be sure to ask your doctor to explain why he or she believes one treatment or the other is best for you.
  3. How many angioplasties or surgeries have you performed, and are you Board certified? Greater experience tends to result in better results. Don’t hesitate to ask your interventional cardiologist how many procedures he or she performs each year and how many of them are on patients like you. Likewise, if you are considering bypass surgery, ask your cardiac surgeon how many surgeries he or she performs each year. You may also want to ask if your interventional cardiologist or cardiac surgeon has been certified in his or her specialty. Doctors are granted certification by taking regular exams and completing other requirements to demonstrate they have the knowledge, skills and attitudes essential for excellent patient care.
  4. What results has your hospital had with patients like me? No matter how skilled your doctor is, he or she does not work alone. In other words, your results will be affected not just by your doctor, but by the whole healthcare team. So ask about the hospital’s outcomes with patients like you who undergo the treatments you are considering.
  5. What is the recovery like for angioplasty and stenting and for bypass surgery? Recovery from bypass surgery is more difficult than for angioplasty procedures. Your cardiologist and surgeon will consider your ability to recover and complete cardiac rehab when making their recommendation.                           
  6. What should I do if I have more questions? Ask them. Any time you have a healthcare decision to make, the conversations you have with your doctor are the key to successful results.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.