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    Coronary Artery Disease: Roles of Different Doctors

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    Topic Overview

    What health professionals are involved in taking care of people who have coronary artery disease?

    After a diagnosis of coronary artery disease (CAD), you should visit your primary care physician every few months. Your doctor can help track your condition and make sure 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 range 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.

    This table outlines the types of health professionals who may be involved in the treatment of CAD and its complications.

    Health professionals for CAD

    Health professional

    Who are they?

    What is their role?

    When would you see them?

    Primary care physician Internist, family physician They manage your medical care. Regular visits (about 2 to 4 per year)
    Cardiologist Heart specialist This doctor provides specialty medical care. Sometimes for regular visits or when CAD gets worse
    Other physicians Nephrologist (kidney specialist), cardiovascular surgeon (heart surgeon), neurologist (brain/nerve specialist) They 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 This nurse can 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 Your team will 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 They help you cope with psychological aspects of disease. Regularly (perhaps weekly), for as long as you need
    Registered dietitian Nutritional expert He or she can help you with heart-healthy diet. Initially, and whenever diet needs to be changed

    Although you may not need help from all of these providers, it is good to be aware of them. You may encounter them at some point during the course of your treatment. If you need the help of other health professionals, you should keep in close contact with your primary care doctor. Make sure to report any changes in the way you feel or any medicine-related side effects. Each person's experience with CAD and with its complications is different. Your health professionals will help tailor your treatment to best suit your needs.

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    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: August 13, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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