Patients with heart failure may work with multiple healthcare professionals. It's important to develop good relationships with all the members of this team. Learn to talk to them openly and honestly and to keep them informed about symptoms or changes in your condition so they can help you. To manage your condition and have a full, active life, follow their recommendations carefully.
Your Team May Include:
- The primary care doctor
Usually a general internist or family physician, who provides the patient's routine preventive healthcare (including physical exams and basic tests). This person is the first contact when medical problems arise. In most cases, he or she remains in charge of overall care and is the main contact for questions and advice.
- A cardiologist
A doctor who diagnoses and treats heart problems.
- Other doctors
Including surgeons and other specialists, if needed and recommended by the primary care doctor or cardiologist.
- Clinical nurse specialists, nurse practitioners
Other nurses and physician assistants who may give care, perform tests, and provide information, education and counseling.
- Physical and occupational therapists
Assist with cardiac rehabilitation and help develop an appropriate plan for regular physical activity.
Teach heart-healthy eating guidelines and help develop meal plans.
- Mental health professionals
Help patients and families deal with emotional stress, anxiety or depression.
- Social workers and case managers
Help with complex financial, legal and other issues such as insurance coverage, developing an advance directive and finding social support services.
They are an excellent resource for information about your medications. They can advise patients if a drug interacts badly with certain foods or with other drugs, including nonprescription ones. They also can help with understanding patient-directed package inserts and label instructions.
You and your caregivers are essential parts of the team, too! You're responsible for following the professionals' instructions and for letting them know how you're doing. With good teamwork and communication, you can improve the quality of your life and feel better.
This content was last reviewed on 08/20/2012.