A cardiologist spends years training to become experts in the structure, function, and diseases of the human heart and blood vessels. However, all of this education does not always translate to high quality patient care. The best physician-patient relationships are based on trust, openness, and a physician’s commitment to excellence. When you’re entrusting the well-being of your heart to a doctor, it’s essential to find a cardiac specialist with whom you can develop a positive relationship.
Does Your Doctor Speak Layperson Language?
Cardiologists have extraordinary depth of knowledge about heart disease, cardiac arrest, arrhythmias, and other diseases that impact the human circulatory system. The best physicians are able to translate these complicated topics into regular, everyday language. Heart doctors who seem unable or unwilling to provide clarification are likely a poor fit for you. Patient questions should always be met with a direct, clear answer. Look for a cardiologist who creates an open, respectful space that allows you to feel comfortable asking questions.
Who Does Your Insurance Recommend?
Many people receive a referral to a cardiologist after making an initial appointment with their primary care doctor. Although details vary by insurance plan, most insurance companies have a preferred network of providers. While this does not always ensure physician quality, it is an excellent place to begin looking for a cardiac specialist (plus, many insurance companies will not cover out-of-network doctors at the same rate as their in-network specialists). Inquire with potential Arizona cardiovascular treatment specialists about whether they accept your insurance.
Is Your Cardiac Doctor Board-Certified?
After completing their training, cardiac experts complete a board certification process to demonstrate their expertise in a particular area of medicine. When choosing a heart doctor, look for board-certification by the American Board of Internal Medicine. This shows that the doctor has proven that he or she has the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed for excellent patient care. Depending on a cardiologist’s particular areas of specialty, additional board certifications may be sought. For example, a cardiac specialist may receive board certification in Nuclear Cardiology, Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology, Cardiovascular Diseases, or Cardiovascular Medicine.
Does Your Heart Doctor Focus on Preventative Medicine?
Although some patients see a cardiologist because of serious cardiac disease or stroke, others visit the doctor because of risk factors such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol. A good doctor does not just focus on surgical interventions or pharmacological solutions (although these are often medically appropriate or necessary). Lifestyle factors, such as diet, weight management, exercise, and stress reduction are other important areas for intervention. Look for a heart doctor who specializes in the prevention of cardiac illness, as well as its diagnosis and treatment.