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How should I choose a cardiologist?

The health of your heart is something you want to place in the best possible hands. So it can be daunting to be faced with choosing a cardiologist. Professional organizations for cardiology-related specialties can help you. These organizations extend credentials to cardiologists who meet requirements for excellence within their specialty.
The Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI) is an example of this type of association and represents specialist cardiologists known as interventional cardiologists. Interventional cardiologists rank among the world's foremost authorities on cardiovascular disease and its treatment. They undergo additional education and training to perform catheter-based cardiovascular procedures to reopen narrowed arteries (for example, angioplasty and stenting).
Many interventional cardiologists become members or Fellows of SCAI. Fellows of SCAI list the credential abbreviation FSCAI after their names. Fellows are required to be Board Certified in interventional cardiology or to be out of training for five years and have performed at least 1,000 procedures (fewer for pediatric interventional cardiologists). What this translates into is an assurance to the patient that his or her interventional cardiologist is experienced, is committed to continuing education and has undergone rigorous evaluation from distinguished peers in the interventional cardiology field.
When seeking a cardiologist, a little bit of research can bring a lot of peace of mind. Take a close look at the credentials listed after prospective cardiologists’ names. If you do not know what these credentials mean, a quick Internet search can give you more information about the education and experience level of the physician.
Anthony L. Komaroff, MD
Internal Medicine
If your doctor has recommended a cardiac procedure, seek out a cardiac specialist at a medical center where bypass surgery and angioplasty are frequently performed. As you might expect, research has shown that outcomes are best at the institutions with the most experience. You may also want to do research about your surgeon's track record. But in an emergency situation, the closest facility is often your best option.

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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.