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Beating heart disease
Who’s on your healthcare team?

Keeping the lines of communication open

Good communication is key in developing and maintaining strong relationships with your healthcare team. The following tips can help keep communication lines open:

  1. Prepare for visits by jotting down your questions in a notebook.
  2. Keep a record of any symptoms you have or discomfort you’re experiencing. Make a note of how your medicine did or didn’t help you.
  3. Write down you medical history, current medications, allergies and who to contact in case of emergency.
  4. Take notes during your visit.
  5. Ask questions when you don’t understand something. Don’t hesitate to ask your healthcare provider to slow down and repeat the information in language you understand.
  6. Discuss drugs in detail, including possible side effects and how to deal with them.

Don’t be afraid to call the office if you have a question that you forgot to ask or something new comes up. Your team wants to help.

If you’ve been diagnosed with heart disease, your treatment will likely be guided by a number of experts and their helpers. Here’s an idea of what your team may look like, the roles each member may play in your care and advice about how to communicate effectively with all your healthcare professionals:

Primary healthcare provider. He or she is usually an internist, family physician or nurse practitioner who provides routine preventive care. This person usually remains the primary contact in charge of your overall care.

Cardiologist. This physician specializes in medically treating all types of heart conditions. Your cardiologist will prescribe heart medications and may perform procedures to test whether your heart’s arteries are narrowed or blocked.

Clinical nurse specialist. An advanced practice nurse usually works under the guidance of a specific cardiologist or heart surgeon and helps monitor your care, orders lab tests and provides you with information, education and counseling.

Mental health professional. A psychologist or psychiatrist helps you and your family deal with the emotional stress, anxiety or depression that may be linked to heart problems.

Social worker or nurse case manager. The social worker or case manager offers guidance with complex financial, legal and other issues such as insurance coverage, as well as help in finding social support services.

Physical therapist and occupational therapist. The physical therapist helps you get back on your feet, and the occupational therapist helps you regain your independence in performing everyday activities. Together, they assist with your cardiac rehabilitation program.

Pharmacist. He or she coordinates all your medication and fills your prescriptions. Pharmacists are a valuable source of information about drugs, interactions and how to understand package inserts and label instructions.

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