What health professionals are involved in taking care of people with coronary artery disease?
Following the diagnosis of
coronary artery disease (CAD), you should visit your
primary care physician every few months to track your condition and ensure that
your treatment is going as planned. If you have complications or need
special procedures (such as cardiac catheterization or open-heart surgery), you
may need treatment from a variety of specialists.
Understanding your health professionals' roles
Depending on how severe your CAD is and whether you already
have complications, you may need a team of health professionals to help
treat your disease and manage your treatment plan.
The following table outlines the types of health professionals who
may be involved in the treatment of CAD and related complications.
Health professionals for CAD
Who are they?
What is their role?
When would you see them?
|Primary care physician||Internist, family physician||Manage medical care||Regular visits (about 2 to 4 per year)|
Provide specialty medical care
|Sometimes for regular visits or when CAD
|Other physicians||Nephrologist (kidney specialist), cardiovascular
surgeon (heart surgeon), neurologist (brain/nerve specialist)||Provide specialty medical care for complications of
CAD||When complications arise or when special procedures
need to be done|
|Nurse educator||Specific type of nurse||Educate you and help you take control||Whenever medicines, diet, or self-management needs
to be explained|
Cardiac rehabilitation team
Doctor, nurse specialist, dietitian, exercise therapist, and physical therapist
Help you recover from an event or procedure and make healthy lifestyle changes
During the rehab program
|Psychiatrist, psychologist, or social worker||Mental health professional||Help you cope with psychological aspects of
disease||Regularly (perhaps weekly), for as long as you
|Dietitian||Nutritional expert||Help you with heart-healthy diet||Initially, and whenever diet needs to be
Although you may not need help from all of these providers,
it is good to be aware of the full range of professionals you may encounter
at some point during the course of your treatment. If you need the help
of other health professionals, you should keep in constant contact with your
primary care doctor and report any changes in the way you feel or any
medicine-related side effects. Each individual's experience with CAD and with its
complications is different. Your health professionals will help tailor your
treatment to best suit your needs.
What is the role of a primary care physician in caring for people with coronary artery disease?
In some cases, your primary care physician (PCP)—usually an
internist or family medicine physician—will serve as your care coordinator and
be responsible for the day-to-day medical management of your coronary artery
disease. In these cases, your PCP will be the one who evaluates your
risk factors, does diagnostic tests, and looks for evidence of other