Finding the Right Cardiologist for You

06/28/2010

            One of the most important parts of your journey to a healthier heart is deciding who will be your regular heart doctor. Heart doctors (cardiologists) can vary greatly. Even though most adhere to the standard of care, their interpretations can lead to a wide range of treatment styles. Some may be more conservative by suggesting very minimal medicines and follow-up. Others tend to be more aggressive in their treatment of heart disease by recommending more medicines and frequent follow-up. Both conservative and aggressive styles are perfectly fine but you need to find a cardiologist with the style you prefer. It should ideally be someone you trust undoubtedly. When it comes to your heart care, you do not have time to second-guess every move your doctor makes!

            If you prefer a cardiologist who is proactive when it comes to national guidelines and standard of care, I would recommend you search several websites. First, go to http://www.ncqa.org which is the website for The National Committee for Quality Assurance. NCQA is a not-for-profit organization that promotes quality care for patients. You can search their physician database to obtain a list of doctors who have passed the Heart/Stroke Recognition Program requirements. The list contains both primary care physicians and cardiologists. 

If you cannot find a cardiologist in the NCQA list for your area, then look up cardiologists through a search engine on the internet (Google, MSN, Yahoo, etc). You will have to type in key words like “cardiologist” and the name of your city. You can also use your local phone directory or ask a friend.

            Once you have a list of possible cardiologists for your area, I recommend you check out their credentials. By internet, you can view all types of information about any licensed provider through your state’s medical board website. To find your specific medical board website you can visit the American Medical Association’s webpage (link http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/education-careers/becoming-physician/medical-licensure/state-medical-boards.shtml) and click on your state in their list. Physicians who have passed the cardiology board exam will generally have this listed on the Medical Board website under Specialty Board Certifications. The Medical Board website can also tell you if the doctor has had any lawsuits settled against them. If you prefer not to use the internet, you can call the American Board of Medical Specialties (1-866-ASK-ABMS) with questions about a doctor’s certification.

After checking out their credentials, the next step would be to call the cardiologist’s office for an appointment. You will have to ask if they accept your insurance and if they are taking new patients. Many offices have more than one doctor in their group. If you really want to find the perfect match, consider asking a nurse, physician assistant or nurse practitioner about the doctors. You might say to them, “I’m looking for a doctor who will see me often and treat my heart disease aggressively.” Or you could say, “I’d like to see a doctor who is personable and open to alternative treatments.” Chances are they can guide you to the right person! 

Submitted by: Sharon Masinelli, PA-C

Author of What To Do When You Have Heart Disease

www.TheHeartDiseaseGuide.com

http://keepyourhearthealthy.wordpress.com

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Women and Heart Disease Across the Lifespan Part 1 (Young Women)

05/26/2010
This is the first of a three part series titled “Women and Heart Disease across the Lifespan.”  On this show we will concentrate on heart conditions that are more likely to affect young women. We will discuss the following conditions: palpitations, tachycardia, pericarditis, conditions that may occur during pregnancy, and premature heart disease.


Internet Support Group for Women with Heart Disease

04/15/2010


When you’ve been diagnosed with heart disease, you may instantly feel completely alone. The feeling is, of course, totally illogical when you consider that heart disease is the most common health ailment among women. So while you’re hardly alone, sometimes it is hard to be completely logical when you are going through a major life change. In August 2009, a study published by the American Psychosomatic Society found that there was a direct correlation between loneliness and coronary heart disease, which can mean that women with existing heart disease could be at increased risk of future heart-related complications, along with depression and anxiety. Your world has been completely turned upside-down and you are suddenly juggling multiple prescription medications, dietary restrictions and extreme fatigue, and it may feel like there is no one out there who truly understands you anymore.

Luckily, in our networked society, there are many ways that you can connect with other women who are dealing with the same heart health issues. They may be around the corner or halfway around the world, but are really only as far away as the click of a mouse. Check out WomenHeart’s online community and support network Inspire <http://www.womenheart.org/supportForWomen/community.cfm> to connect with other women living with heart disease. Community members can share stories, post journal entries and participate in discussions with other women with similar heart conditions or who have had similar treatments.

 A 2007 study in Great Britain showed that heart patients who were given access to information and communication via the Internet were more likely to participate in healthy behaviors.


“You Gotta Have Heart” – Heart Month Show

02/07/2010


Women and Heart Disease – A Survivor’s Story

02/05/2010

This is a heart saving story about women and heart disease – straight from a survivor.  Brought to you by the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign.

Today’s message is from Stephanie, who had a heart attack at 24 after being diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 16.

At 16, Stephanie, who was overweight, had been diagnosed with diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.  Stephanie said these things were mentioned casually by her physician, but she didn’t know they were a big deal.  “Because I wasn’t well educated about those conditions, they went unmanaged for a long time.”

As a college undergraduate I ate a typical fast-food diet, I rarely cooked my own food and often ate out.  After my heart attack that all changed.  I’ve lost 70 pounds and significantly reduced my blood pressure and cholesterol.  I work out five to six times a week and my experience has pushed me to eat healthy.  My diet is heavy on protein, fiber and produce, and I’m big on reading labels.  I’ve learned that you can love your heart by paying attention to what you put in your mouth.

 Changing the way you eat and prepare food can reduce your risk.

Not all fats are created equal. Use only fats and oils with 2 grams (or less) of saturated fat per tablespoon.

Break free of frying.  Boil, bake, sauté, steam, microwave, grill, broil, roast, or poach your entrée to cut the fat and keep the flavor.

When eating prepared food, pay close attention to labels.  Hydrogrenated oils and fats are often hidden in the ingredient list.

 For recipes that let you love your heart and enjoy your meals visit the American Heart Association’s online cookbook at www.deliciousdecision.org

For more heart healthy info visit www.heart-strong.com