how to find a good cardiologist

I had sudden cardiac arrest,as I have writtien July 2006 They called it the "widow maker" and put stent in the LAD. I was defibbed twice. Fortunately I had very little damage because the ambulance was here is less than 5 minutes.

After reading many of your stories I realize more than ever how fortunate I am. I just had a stent placed in the LAD and off I WENT. The tests showed that I had had a "silent" heart attack in the past and they could not stent that area.

I have changed drs. because the first one said in a letter to my primary care dr. that I asked more than a DOZEN questions (the appt. right after the attack) AND I had been on the internet!! I live in metro Detoit and went to a hospital associated with University of Mi Hospital. Since the drs. at this hospital saved my life I assumed they were fine. I should have suspected since when I had the heat attack the "teaching" afterwards consisted of how lucky I was because 95% of the people die from this type and it was "the big one,." So you see I had to go to the internet.


The second dr. I was referred to since I "fired" the first for the DOZEN question remark appears unusual to me as well. His take on the situation is that the "public" wants all these heart tests done and they are pretty much worthless. He said he could have me do all of them and I could drop dead of a heart attack the next day. I don't know if he was just talking about the type that I had where a piece of plague broke off or what.

I asked about loosing weight.(weigh 180) and he said I had the same risk for the second if I did or not. (my family was furious with this advise) His opinion is that he would rather have a patient with hard plague build up and a 90% blockage than a person like me with only a 10% blockage at the time and then you have a chunck of the plaque break off.

My main concern is having the stent "clog.". I have read about the drug coated stents and the issues. This current dr. does not do any tests for that.... I guess he just thinks every test is worthless! Has anyone gone to Cleveland Clinic? I live about 3 hours away and hear they are very good.

I feel like I am sitting here "fat, dumb, and hapy" and just not taking proactve precautions. Perhaps this is because my life did not change like many of yours did so I am naive as to what could happen if the future! My ef is 55% which I am told is very good after a MI.

So I guess my main qestion is how many of you are satisfied with your drs. Has anyone gone to the Cleveland Clinic and has experiences with a particular dr. there?

Thanks for your help.

Elizabeth

God bless all of you who have to live with damage from this nasty disease!

Elizabeth

Report post

13 replies. Join the discussion

Elizabeth, don't think your life has not changed - it has - it is just in how you handle it. I am on my 5th cardiologist, primarily due to the same reasons you stated above. Many do not want patients to ask questions and even worse - if you have tried to educate yourself througth reading and research and ask about leading edge tests, technology, they seem to be resentful. Fortunately, this does not apply to all doctors. My 5th cardiologist is a woman and she is the most kind, caring and considerate person, is very knowledgeable, and genuinely seems interested in what I have to say.

No. 1, I have become very pro-women doctors in going through my own issues (7 stents in my LAD - one of which is medicated). Women tend to be more naturally compassionate and sympathetic with their patients (I'm sure there are exceptions here too). Cleveland Clinic if you look on the web, is the top rated cardiology hospital in the U.S. That said, and since you have to travel 3 hours to get there, it is helpful to talk to the nurses/office managers who run the office of the doctor you want to see call as many as necessary). I tell them that I need a doctor who cares, that I have been treated poorly in the past, and see what their response is. My current cardiologist - her staff was the same - sympathetic on the phone, and reassuring that the doctor cares about her patients.

Initially, my new cardio wanted to see me once a week for a month (as I was still having some problems) and now I see her once a month. They always do an EKG and she does a check up, and also schedules periodic stress tests to assess heart function. There are new procedures and tests out now that are still being reviewed but are in use, CT scans, etc. to help earlier detection. Be persistent and keep the faith.

Report post

I too live 3 hours from the Clinic and have gone there twice.I would advise anybody who is able to go there to go and be treated.You can go to there website.CCF.org You can find a cardio who specializes in womens hearts and even make an appointment online.I went through there ER because I was having pain that couldn't be found at my hospital. My daughter lives in Cleveland and came and got me and took me there both times.They all treated me great.Even the 2nd time when they found my heart was fine they didn't make me feel lik an idiot.They tested for other things after that. Please go there if you are able.They can really set your mind at ease.

Report post

I have looked on the website and for a fee, they will do a e-mail second opinion. I live in Calif and would love to go there although I hate to fly. How important do you think it is to have a cardiologist that specializes in womens heart issues?

I went to a cardiologist yesterday that asked me to make the choice of whether to do a invasive ango. I had the new 64 slice angio before seeing him that showed a calcium score in my LAD of 177 and RCA 82. Several others showed small numbers like 6. The report said that I had moderate stenosis in the proximal

and midsection. I have read that calcium is considered 1/5th of the blockage. I was so surprized that he gave me the option. The dr that sent me there who is a electrophysical cardio (he ordered the ct and tilt table test) told me that they would do the invasive test whether I passed the stress test or not. The stress test showed equivical evidence of ischemia but the nuclear part was neg. This is the same results I had on previous stress tests.

My sister dropped dead of a sudden heart attack at 53. I have a very strong family history of heart disease. Should I see a doctor who specializes in women??? I can see that th
these doctors are thinking of men as they treat women. It is scary!!

Any ideas would be helpful. I am scheduled in three weeks for an invasive angio and possible angioplasty. In reading all your posts about angioplasty and stents..I would almost rather have a bypass!! Sorry if I am rambling...just stressed out a little.

Report post

Well now, I'm seeing red flags going off in my head everywhere. I had a heart attack October 26th, 3 medicated stents put in October 30th and haven't seen a cardiologist since. I've seen my primary care doctor twice but she's been on medical leave with her new baby since December 15th, so I guess I'm on my own for now. I called my heart surgeon/cardiac team's office in January to ask a question and mentioned at the time that my discharge papers said I would be called by their office to set up a follow-up appointment for some date 2 to 3 months after the surgery. The office lady said they were "running behind" and would call soon. As of today I still haven't heard from them. After reading about the attention that you all have been getting since your heart attacks perhaps I don't want to hear from this cardiac team and should find another cardiologist. That won't be easy up here in the willy-whacks of Maine but I'm now sure that my best interests are not being served.

Thanks

Report post

I've been reading the posts lately with people talking about how many cardiologists they've gone through and I guess I can say you're all lucky that you have the choice at least!

We don't get to pick - we get one assigned to us at our local hospital and that's it.

My lil sis was 14 when she got diagnosed, so they had her under some wanker who thought he was God's gift. He wasnt even a cardiologist - just some kids doc professor - and we found out a few months back, he wasn't even a blasted professor - just liked the title when he took the top job. He NEVER listen to anything she said and when she got depressed and stopped eating he threw her in hospital and took her off all her meds - attempting to tell us it was digoxin posioning?!?

Neverthless, without the warfarin she got a blood clot and it hit her lungs and she died - even the night before when she complained to him about how her thigh was in agony and aching, did he think to ultrasound her. Nope - because he was a jerk.

And when she died we had a meeting with her other docs from up North and they couldn't believe that the arse hadn't called them when she'd gotten worse, coz they're sure they could have done something - that's what hurts the most, knowing that he sucked and she died.

Thankfully I love karma and the wanker got cancer and died recently - I know it's nasty, but the guy was a JERK!!

I do have a point tho =) And that's that you guys have choice - so use it!!!!!! Don't put up with people that aren't fully behind you, because at the end of the day, these are the people that you're trusting your life with!!!!

As for me, her doc's decided that I was too cheeky to be under some stiff boring dude (and I'm an adult, so I actually get a cardiologist!) so they pulled some strings and handed my case to the cardiologist I have now.

He is absolutely wonderful - from day one he's been absolutely straight up with me, he's encouraged me to ignore the predictions, and is generally amazing. I was under a woman cardiologist when they assessed me for the transplant list and she was the most pesimistic person I've ever met!!

Yes, I know the tests said I needed a transplant, I'd told himI wouldn't need one, he said go for it - she said "you'll be back, no-one ever gets away". Screw that - I'm making my own fate! (With the help of the big dude upstairs of course!)

3.5 years and still bouncing transplant free and loving life...ef's gone from 10% to 48%...

So chose - fight - coz you're worth it!!! =D

Report post

So sorry for all the bad experiences you have gone through. I have ben VERY luck to find a cardio
Dr. my first time. In April 05 I had to have triple by-pass surgery. All 3 artieries - had 5 major blockages 75-90% blockages. I was lucky to have a cardioloogist who listened to what I was saying and did an angio before I had a heart attack. This was after the stress test showed only 1 small blockage. I was heart broken and concerned when Dr. Sumner decided to leave the Hershey area to go to Leigh High Valley, Pa. His comment to me was that I would be assigned a new Dr. but for me to remember that it is my right to change Drs. if I didn't like my new assigned Dr. Lucky for me I was assigned another good cardio Dr. I was scared I would assigned the one Dr I had in the hospital when I had my by pass surgery. He was the most uncaring to busy to answer question type. He even told me that I have nothing to worry about since they cured me of heart disease.
Please keep looking till you find a Dr. that you like and feel comfortable with. Good cardio Drs. are out there!!!
Good luck!!!
Pat

Report post

Hey flowerflossey and fellow Californian,
I think it is important to go to a Doc you feel comfortable with whether that be some one who specializes in women's heart or not. There are some Doc 's that understand women's health and are not necessarily specilaists in that area. There are just not enough clinical studies being done yet that pertain to women. You are entitled to a second opinion. I am finding as I become more active in my own health that the insurance companies are different, Kaiser is preventative and Blue Cross is just do the necessary only. I have had to ask for blood wotk and then end up paying for more myself.
I also have a strong family history, my brothers died at 45 yrs and 42 yrs , 6 weeks apart from massive heart attacks. My mother has had two heart bypasses the first at 58 yrs the next one at 70 yrs. I had one stent at 45 yrs with 90% blockage.Then other uncles have died from heart attacks at earlier ages and one great aunt with a heart bypass and numerous PVD stents.
I am looking for a Doc that I feel comfortable with and does what I think needs to be done.Or at least something close to my needs.
Karen

Report post

I am so sorry Fruitloop that your lil sister died. This should never of happened. Cheney yesterday, complained about his calf hurting him and they were all over him. Blood clot. Should us women be treated any differently?. I have always said, "what goes around comes around". And, this is happening. And I do not feel a bit of sadness. I will not turn the other cheek and take a back seat to unruly, under-educated, holier than thou, cocky, smart alex, egomaniacs and lying doctors. And to doctors who medically mismanage, patients. I have seen it all.

You had better believe their are Jerks out there. I have a list of jerks here in Houston that I share with those dear to me. I have a "good list" also. Yes, there really are some good doctors out there.

Pat, how are you feeling after your surgery? Any compllcations? I wish all the ladies on this forum better days ahead. We are all sooooo deserving.

Ellie

Report post

I believe that I after my heart attack as I became more aware of heart issues - searching the internet - reading everything - that I expected more from my doctors. Currently, I'm searching for a new cardiologist - (my 3rd) - I know when I've reached the point of "I'm not listening to you anymore" attitude of a doctor. It breaks my heart to hear about what happened to Fruitloop's sister!!!!

I live in Houston and Ellie I would love to hear the ones (cardiologist) on your "good list"

My 3 year anniversary of the "big one" is approaching (April 1) - I feel so much better at this point - I know there's so much more to accomplish.

Take care all of you
and don't forget cardiac - rehab

Report post

Ellie,
I am feeling pretty good. I still have some shortness of breath but that is probally due to the many years of smoking. A few weeks ago I had the stomach flu which on top of making it harder to control my diabetes I also dehydrated. My heart started pounding and I started with chest pain. I figured it was because of the dehydration but took a nitro just to be safe. Went to the ER
because of the dehydration and as soon as they knew I had by pass surgery & chest pain they ran a series of test even though the ekg was normal. Thankfully every thing turned out good.
My worst problem is having pain in the center of my chest that spreads to the right side of my chest. I really think it is related to where they cut me and from the chest bone being yanked apart and not the heart itself. My cardio is keeping a eye on it just to make sure that the scaring isn't blocking anything important.
Like I said before I am one of the lucky ones by having a good cardio and I wish that everyone else was as lucky as I have been.
Pat

Report post

Pat, may I suggest a book that will be coming out at the end of this month. It is written by Kathy Kastan who is President of Women Heart. The book is titled "From The Heart, How to live well with heart disease". Kathy had by-pass surgery also at a young age and has three little ones.. I have five books ordered that I will give to two doctors and for gifts. This book can be ordered from this site or from Amazon, Walmarts, etc. Kathy is a great gal and has served her position well.

Pat, I had heard that it can take up to two years for a person to feel well after by-pass surgery. I think when we know what we feel is not heart related, we breathe easier.

Pls. let us know how you are doing.

Wishing you sunnier days, ahead.

Ellie

Report post

Ellie,
I will look for this book. When I first had my surgery the unliked Dr. in the hospital told me I would be feeling great within 2-3 months. Must admit I drove myself half nuts mentally when I didn't.. Met a man at the gym that I started going to who also had by pass surgery 1 year before I did. He reasured me that it takes a good year to feel better, that some Drs. don't know what they are talking about when they said 2-3 months. Yes I do feel better than before my surgery so that is a real blessing. As when they did my surgery they left 3 of the very small blockages alone due to risk involved to doing more and they were in the branches of my arteries. As my Cardio Dr. told my husband after the surgery he is totally amazed that I didn't have a heart attack and that I was a time bomb waiting to go off. Perhaps this is why I credit my cardio dr. for saving my life since he talked me into having the heart cath even though the stress test only showed one small blockage. Without that heart cath they never would have found the 5 large blockages & 3 small ones.

Pat

Report post

bjlkag, Wow - I honestly would say, start researching now and do not wait. I was 5 days out of the hospital and had a Cardiologists Appointment, I seem to have really lucked out with my thyroid and cardio dr's - I am very lucky!!!!.... One thing is - and I have to try and remember this, too -

No one, but YOU cares enough to take care of YOU. I realize NOW my medical care is in my hands and it goes how I want it to go because I am in control... :-) I need a tattoo of that!

Report post

This discussion is closed to replies. We close all discussions after 90 days.

If there's something you'd like to discuss, click below to start a new discussion.

Things you can do

Support WomenHeart

Help WomenHeart reach its goals and support people like yourself by making a donation today.

Donate to  WomenHeart

Discussion topics

Heart health links and resources


The SCAD Ladies Stand Up -- Read the special report

Community leaders

Disclaimer

The information provided by this online support network through WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease and Inspire is for general informational purposes only. The information is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. If you are ill, or suspect that you are ill, see a doctor immediately. In an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease never recommends or endorses any specific physicians, products or treatments for any condition.