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Cardiac Rehabilitation Team - Topic Overview

Following a diagnosis of heart disease, a cardiac event, or surgery or another procedure, you will encounter many health professionals. Each will have a specific role in your cardiac rehabilitation (rehab). Whether you have had cardiac surgery or have been diagnosed with a heart condition, a team of specialists will assist you with all of your cardiac needs.

Depending on your diagnosis and planned course of treatment, you will probably be in close contact with many health professionals in the hospital. After you leave the hospital, it is important for you to stay in touch with your doctor or other health professionals who can continue to watch your progress and health status. You will probably keep in close contact with your primary care physician and your cardiologist. You should also be aware of any local rehab programs or support groups.

Remember, everybody's experience is different. A variety of health professionals can help guide you through your treatment. And it's best if you are willing to help make sure the treatment fits your experiences.

Understanding your providers' roles

You may need a team of health professionals, including specialists and generalists, to help treat your heart condition and manage your treatment plan. Although you may not need help from all of these providers, be aware of the types of professionals that you may encounter. It is important that you understand their roles so you can take advantage of their expertise.

The following table outlines the types of health professionals who may be involved in your treatment.

Your health care team

Team member

Who are they?

What is their role?

When would you see them?

Primary care physicianInternist, family doctorManage your medical careRegular visits (about 2 to 4 each year)

Heart specialist, including cardiac electrophysiologist

Provide you with specialty medical care for your heartSometimes for regular visits, or whenever your condition changes
Other specialist physiciansNephrologist (kidney specialist), neurologist (brain/nerve specialist), lipid disorder specialist, endocrinologist, or physiatrist (rehab specialist)Provide you with specialty medical care in area of specializationWhenever complications arise or special procedures need to be done
Cardiac surgeonA physician specialist trained to operate on your heart Performs surgeries, such as coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgeries and heart transplantsIf you are considering a cardiac surgery or to follow up after the operation
Nurse/nurse practitioner/nurse educatorType of nurseEducate you/help you take control of your conditionWhenever your medicines/ diet/self-management need to be explained
Physical therapist/ occupational therapist/rehab nurseSpecific type of professional or nurseAssist with building up your strength during recovery and rehabWhile you are in the hospital and after discharge
Physical therapist or exercise physiologistExpert in improving health through exerciseHelp you develop and maintain appropriate exercise and lifestyle behaviorsInpatient recovery and outpatient rehab
Registered dietitianExpert in diet and nutritionHelp you develop and stay with an appropriate dietFor help creating a heart-healthy diet that works for you
Psychiatrist/ psychologist/ social worker/ case managerMental health professional (except the case manager) who helps coordinate care and provider servicesHelp you cope with psychological aspects of your condition; help coordinate your care and servicesRegularly (perhaps weekly), for as long as needed
PharmacistPharmacology professionalAnswers questions about how often to take your drugs and the side effects they might causeWhenever you need prescriptions filled

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 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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