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
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.