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Beating heart disease
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If you’ve been diagnosed with heart disease, your treatment will likely be guided by a number of experts and their helpers. Here’s an idea of what your team may look like, the roles each member may play in your care and advice about how to communicate effectively with all your healthcare professionals:

Primary healthcare provider. He or she is usually an internist, family physician or nurse practitioner who provides routine preventive care. This person usually remains the primary contact in charge of your overall care.

Cardiologist. This physician specializes in medically treating all types of heart conditions. Your cardiologist will prescribe heart medications and may perform procedures to test whether your heart’s arteries are narrowed or blocked.

Clinical nurse specialist. An advanced practice nurse usually works under the guidance of a specific cardiologist or heart surgeon and helps monitor your care, orders lab tests and provides you with information, education and counseling.

Mental health professional. A psychologist or psychiatrist helps you and your family deal with the emotional stress, anxiety or depression that may be linked to heart problems.

Social worker or nurse case manager. The social worker or case manager offers guidance with complex financial, legal and other issues such as insurance coverage, as well as help in finding social support services.

Physical therapist and occupational therapist. The physical therapist helps you get back on your feet, and the occupational therapist helps you regain your independence in performing everyday activities. Together, they assist with your cardiac rehabilitation program.

Pharmacist. He or she coordinates all your medication and fills your prescriptions. Pharmacists are a valuable source of information about drugs, interactions and how to understand package inserts and label instructions.