Cardiac rehabilitation team
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. 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 rehabilitation 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 require assistance 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.
Who are they?
What is their role?
When would you see them?
|Primary care physician||Internist, family doctor||Manage your medical care||Regular visits (about 2 to 4 each year)|
|Cardiologist||Heart specialist||Provide you with specialty medical care for your heart||Sometimes for regular visits, or whenever your condition changes|
|Other specialist physicians||Nephrologist (kidney specialist), neurologist (brain/nerve specialist), electrophysiologist, lipid disorder specialist, endocrinologist, or physiatrist (rehab specialist)||Provide you with specialty medical care in area of specialization||Whenever complications arise or special procedures need to be done|
|Cardiac surgeon||A physician specialist trained to operate on your heart||Performs surgeries, such as coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgeries and heart transplants||If you are considering a cardiac surgery or to follow up after the operation|
|Nurse/nurse practitioner/nurse educator||Type of nurse||Educate you/help you take control of your condition||Whenever your medicines/ diet/self-management need to be explained|
|Physical therapist/ occupational therapist/rehab nurse||Specific type of professional or nurse||Assist with building up your strength during recovery and rehabilitation||During hospitalization and after discharge|
|Physical therapist or exercise physiologist||Expert in improving health through exercise||Help you develop and maintain appropriate exercise and lifestyle behaviors||Inpatient recovery and outpatient rehabilitation|
|Registered dietitian/ nutritionist||Expert in diet and nutrition||Help you develop and stay with an appropriate diet||For help creating a heart-healthy diet that works for you|
|Psychiatrist/ psychologist/ social worker/ case manager||Mental health professional (except the case manager) who helps coordinate care and provider services||Help you cope with psychological aspects of your condition; help coordinate your care and services||Regularly (perhaps weekly), for as long as needed|
|Pharmacist||Pharmacology professional||Answers questions about how often to take your drugs and the side effects they might cause||Whenever you need prescriptions filled|
Last Updated: October 8, 2008
Author: Robin Parks, MS