how to find a good cardiologist, all suggestions appreciated!

Hello,

Some of you may know me already from my posting on here in regards to helping out my Mom, who had a heart attack in mid-March and is continuing to have issues even after a clean and healthy looking second angiogram in mid April.

I went with her to see her cardiologist today because she is continuing to have so many issues and I wanted to get a read on her doctor.

I was not overly impressed. He admitted he doesn't really know what's going on for sure, but wants to treat her for pericarditis because that seems most likely to him.....which means she is going into her second month of Prednisone treatment without any real relief. (it helped at high doses, but now that she's tapering down the pain is back).

Anyway...very long story short - we aren't getting answers, we aren't getting patience and particularly respectful care. We're getting a lot of rushed half-assed (pardon my language) treatment involving a lot of derisive responses when we ask questions or suggest alternate ideas.

I would love for anyone's advice on how to seek out a really good specialist/cardiologist. My parents are willing to pay out of pocket for one at this point. We live in the Seattle area, and so not close to a Mayo Clinic unfortunately, but how have any of you ladies gone about finding a new more knowledgeable and caring doctor?

Thanks for your time!

-Carrie

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25 replies. Join the discussion

I happened to luck out with mine. I just picked him because he was close to my house and I love him and his staff. However, ask as many people as you know who their cardio doc is and do they like him? I also lucked out in that my sil is a nurse at the hospital by me and I could ask her. If you could do that by any chance, that would help also. Find out who the nurses like, they are usually right.
Hopefully, others will come along and give you some advice too and good luck with your Mom. I have been there with other doctors and it is not easy, very frustrating.

colleen

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Ask every doctor (including dentists, etc.) who they would send their mothers to!

Call a major heart center, such as the Cleveland Clinic--everybody there should be very good.

If you have a heart failure or similar clinic in a hospital in your region, ask the nurse practioner in charge for his/her recommendation.

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Thanks!! I am going to start asking around anywhere and everywhere. I am going to start calling clinics, even if people think I'm a weirdo for calling out of the blue. We just desperately need someone else. The more I think about the appointment from Tuesday, the more I get frustrated. He spent maybe 15 minutes with her tops and rushed her and was impatient and dismissive. It breaks my heart, it really does. To see her keep on suffering and to see the doctor be so uninolved. At one point I dared asked him some questions and he got visibly annoyed and says, "I'm frustrated by this, too, you know!" in an agitated voice. Well, sorry Dr. that your inept care is still leaving my Mom in almost constant pain.

Anyway, sorry, needed to vent.

Thank you both for your advice!

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Hi, in the Seattle area I liked this Cardiologist. Actually, I was impressed with the whole clinic.
Gordon L. Kritzer, MD, FACC I wished I could still go there.
But since I live in the North part of Washington State it was to difficult, after I finally got diagnosed with all kinds of stuff that they could not figure out here.

My reason to go there was my cardiologist, pulmnologist were not working very well, and they still are not. But my diagnosis makes it easier to handle.

They diagnosed me with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis.and heart disease( which I knew already since I had a heart attack, but they also came up why I fainted all the time. a loop recorder was the trick and showed I had Supraventricular tachycardia…. Here they do not even know what to do with it inside my body….It is still inside of me not reading stuff since they do not seem to know how to set it right I believe.

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Some suggestions.

Do a google and see if there are any cardiac rehab clinics in the area....then go to them and chat up the staff about how rehab works....etc....and ask if there are any docs they specifically respect and like.

Is there a Heart Hospital in Seattle? Same thing there.

At church? At school? At the grocery store? Never know where you might hit a home run!

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Unfortunately the elderly are often not treated well. I really had to monitor my mother-in-law and change her doctor. Now I'm changing even my husbands doctor. As to finding one, I talked to people at my church, neighbors, friends, work, AMA, and then interviewed them until I found one who has been truly marvelous. You really have to peal through the layers of bad because they can kill you.

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I actually was sent to a kidney doctor who I absolutely LOVE!!! So, I asked him to recommend a cardiologist as well as a primary care doctor. In other words, I took one doctor I loved and asked who he liked. And I am fortunate to have found a great cardiologist. I have to also say I live outside of Sun City, AZ. My parents go to doctors inside Sun City which is the elderly community. And they are not treated as well. In my opinion, with what I've seen, it's "give them a pill and shut them up" for the most part. I had to argue long and hard with my mother to get her to change doctors to someone who actually listened.

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Hi CareAlot,
I've been a patient with Seattle Cardiology since 2007 and have always been treated with respect there. I have both an EP & Cardiologist I work with for my CHF. Both are located at the Cherry Hill Campus of Swedish. I've never been rushed and am often amazed at how much time they take with me. After reading all the frustrations folks have with their care, I always wonder how I got so lucky... Now that said, treatments we've tried haven't really improved my condition - but it isn't for lack of attention, I just haven't been responsive to drugs or a bi-v pacer. Check out Tiong-Keat Yeoh, M.D. for more information.

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Dear Carrie,

I don't know if changing cardiologists is going to help your mother. He's giving her the most extreme treatment for her condition.

You might want to request a referral to an immunologist and/or pulmonoligist. She probably needs extensive blood work (beyond standard) to determine if there is any other underlying infection or virus causing this problem.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dressler%27s_syndrome

Good Luck!

May the Blessings Be!

Sherrie

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I did have another person suggest Seattle Cardiology over at Cherry Hill Swedish - had a lot of the same things to say that you did. Thanks so much for the suggestion! I really appreciate it and definitely am going to look into it. Even if there ends up being a lot of trial and error to figure out how to help her to feel better, I truly think she'll somewhat better just having a more respectful doctor.

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Sherrie,

Thanks for your response. I had been wondering about Dressler's as well as having some blood work done because it seems like that'd be a good next step. You're right about the extreme treatment, its why her cardiologist is so frustrated because it's not really working. Your response definitely backs up some thoughts I had been having regarding where to go next.

Thanks!

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Dear Carrie--

Yeah, I've been thinking about your post more today since responding.

If I am remembering the right person, didn't your mother experience a life-threatening tamponade during a cardiac procedure? That's really a BUMMER! And endocarditis can be the after-effect of that. Is her present cardiologist the one who perfomed the procedure? If so, I wouldn't doubt that there is some guilt and frustration on his part account of that. And a whole lot of justifable anger and frustrationon your parts. (It should NOT have happened!) But that's not going to help. You need to move forward with ACTION!

But I do think she needs to be checked for an underlying infection of some kind--especially since this happened to her. You should probably go back to her primary care physician and start there. The problem these days with specialists is that they are really only focused on their specialty--otherwise they are like a fish out of water. If her latest angiograph is clear, that's certainly good! But I'm not sure that endocarditis itself is even a "heart" problem. You might want to call a medical school associated with a teaching hospital. Ask to talk to the Directors of Cardiology and Immunology and see if you can get some good direction. Go to the TOP! And try to keep her away from any sort of infection--no grandkids around with sniffles, etc. Be sure she diligently washes her hands after a trip to the grocery store or handling money. Use Lysol spray like it's going out of style. Don't forget phones and door knobs. It's really important that it not get any worse than it all ready is.

This should have never happened to her to begin with. She deserves the absolute best follow-up care available.

Also, please be advised that steroids can cause some pretty strange mood swings. So if Mom is acting a little weird lately, some of it can probably be attributed to that.

I wish you the best!

May the Blessings Be!

Sherrie

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P. S. If you go to a hospital pharmacy, you can buy a bar of surgical soap. (Also great for acne.) With the warm humid weather, so many icky things can grow. I would also advise that someone else do her laundry for her right now--keep her away from any unseen growing thingies. Wash sheets with bleach and hot water (Screw it if the flowers fade.) Change them often. If you can, get her out into sunlight for a few minutes a day.

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Sherrie,

I know this is a few weeks late, but I was going back over my discussions on the forum today and I wanted to thank you again for all your advice! It had me thinking and asking a lot of questions of my Mom's docs!

We're still looking for answers and trying to get my Mom fully on the road to recovery, but we made a little progress today with a new cardiologist who is abandoning the Prednisone (thankfully!! She was on it five weeks and it wrecked utter havoc on her system - throwing her hypothyroidism into a horrible state and the withdrawal was even worse!!! that is one crazy drug!! I am still hoping she will get over the withdrawal, it's been almost two weeks now...), and switching to Colchicine, an anti-gout med that may be better for pericarditis....

Of course, they still can't assure us it is even Pericarditis, but that's still their best guess. They don't think it's virus or bacteria caused because she has no fever ever, and no other symptoms to indicate infection. I'm still not entirely convinced, but....one step at a time, I guess.

Anyway! Just a little update. Thank you so much again for all your responses!

I love this foum, it's been such a wonderful thing in the midst of all this time of crisis.

Carrie

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the plight sounds extremely frustrating!!!

my thoughts....not worth much!!
if they are not certain, why are they thinking pericarditis? in my experience, ER worker, this is a fairly straightforward diagnosis....I am confused!! as you must be as well. I do have a suggestion....I went online to the myocarditis foundation. It has a number for info. I called, left my name and number. Within 3 days I received a call from a Mayo Clinic cardiologist. She was VERY INFORMATIVE. Went over tests, symtoms, treatments via phone---things that had been done. She offered advice/suggestions on further treatments, tests, advice. Offered her HOME PHONE NUMBER to give to my current cardio and primary MD...please have them call me with any questions. AND NEVER PRESSURED ME TO COME TO THE MAYO CLINIC!!!!

it is just a thought.
best wished to you and your mom!
LIVE STRONG
jen

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Dear CareALot,

I agree with flacgen's post above. Something fishy--it just doesn't add up.

If she were my Mom, I'd follow her advice. It sounds like a plan to me--and like she knows what she is talking about.

Good Luck and keep us posted.

May the Blessings Be!

Sherrie

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Sherrie,

We should add that if it's endocarditis or pericarditis, the Mom should sterilize the toothbrush daily. I bought (whitening) Scope with hydrogen peroxide in it...I use the mouthwash and dip my toothbrush into it, too. If it were infection, a huge percentage are found in the hospital but, many are host on our own bodies. For example, some forms of meningitis develop in the brain, due to access via another injury on the body. A form of meningitis normally resides in our nasal passages, but when it's accessed internally to the body via throat or neck injury, it can live in the wrong part of the body. No fault of anyone, just the way it goes. So, I'd be a bit slower to assume "cause" somewhere.
Best, Mary

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Jen,

That sounds like a wonderful idea - it terms of having someone from the Clinic call. I will absolutely look into that.

For some reason, several doctors have now told my Mom that pericaritis is really hard to diagnose, so I don't know what to believe. I may be repeating myself, but it's true that it hasnt shown up on EKG, chest x-ray, or through listening with stethoscope. I don't know if it would show up on either an echo or an angiogram, but she's had both of those too without any real word if they indicated pericarditis. Plus, now the CRP (I think that's the blood test) was negative, and I think that test shows if there is inflammation in the body.

So yeah. I am confused for sure. The doctor seems to think the pain relates to pericarditis beacuse it's so strong in the back of her left shoulder, she does feel it worse when she takes really deep breaths, and because of her original pericardial effusion/tamponade. Their reasoning is that that was so severe that when blood filled up the sac, it irritated the heck out of everything and so inflammation persists.

Even if that is the case, it bothers me to no end that no one will consider Dressler's (which I believe is auto-immune and my Mom has several autoimmune issues), or a viral issue, or....just something else! They all just scratch their heads.

Anyway, Jen, I appreciate yours, Sherrie's and Mary's continued advice on this. I love this forum because people are so knowledgeable, well spoken and honestly - you ladies seem to care more than the doctors at this point, I swear!

As a general update - my Mom is three days into taking the colchicine and still has a ton of pain. She is still suffering Prednisone withdrawal 2.5 weeks since her last dose as well. And now her thyroid is completely off.....ugh!

My quest for knowledge will continue!

Thank you all again!!
-Carrie

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just wanted to add on a few details here...

- My Mom has NOT been running a fever at all

- Not sure if it was a CRP or a ESR test, but whatever one it is, did not show inflammation

- Doc claimed that if it was viral or bacterial on top of the fever, my Mom would be showing other signs of being "sick" or "infected"

- The pain does get aggravated by exercise, but also by too much sitting....resting at night is definitely so far the best time of day for her. The pain does not wake her up.

.....I am sure I am forgetting something, but it's just all so overwhelming. On top of all this, she has a CT scan of her lungs scheduled for tomorrow. Back when all this began, they had done a CT to make sure there wasn't a pulmonary problem or something related to her lungs and two spots had shown up - one close to her heart, the other completely far away from it....They were both VERY VERY small, but neverthless, we have to make sure they haven't grown or changed in the past 3 plus months.

I literally feel sick to my stomach even typing all of this out. I would do just about about anything right now to give my Mom some good news.

Thanks for reading.

-Carrie

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Jen

One more question - I went to the myocarditis foundation and called their main contact number - left a message just explaining our situation. Obviously if my Mom does have pericarditis that is different from myocarditis, but I figured anything is worth a shot.

Is main contact # for the foundation the way you got connected with a cardiologist at Mayo?

Thanks so much!

-Carrie

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