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Heart failure is a lifelong condition. So you will have
dozens—or even hundreds—of appointments with various health professionals
while you have the disease.
Creating ongoing and lasting relationships with these professionals
can give you:
You will not be left alone with the task of
managing your disease. You will see several doctors, specialists, and nurses. Each will offer you specific suggestions and guidance that can help you to
control your heart failure. The number of health professionals you see will
probably grow over time. Your health care team can include doctors,
nurses, cardiac surgeons, physical and occupational therapists, dietitians,
social workers, and pharmacists.
With such a large care team, you might forget that you must also play an active role in managing your heart failure. In fact, you are the most important member of your treatment
team. If you don't take part and cooperate in managing your
condition, no amount of effort by your doctors and nurses will improve your health.
Each member of your medical team plays an important role
in heart failure treatment. But your doctors and nurses help guide you in making the
best treatment decisions for you.
Your primary care doctor will act as the coach of your health care
team. Your coach may be a family doctor or a cardiologist. He or she will create and correct your drug treatment plan, regularly
check in on the symptoms of your disease, and coordinate your care
with other members of your care team. Your doctor will also help you to understand
your overall prognosis and the specifics of how your drugs should be
How often you see your doctor will usually depend on how far your
heart failure has progressed. If you have class I or II heart failure, you may
see your doctor 2 or 3 times a year. At those visits, your doctor will check your overall health and ask you
important questions about your lifestyle. If you have more advanced (class III
or IV) heart failure, you might see your doctor more often.
The nurses involved in your care have four main roles. They:
You can't follow your health care team's orders
unless you take the time to understand them fully. Open, two-way communication
between you and the members of your health care team is the key to a successful
relationship. Make sure to listen to everything they have to say.
But they will also be listening to you. Tell them about how you have been feeling
between visits and about any concerns you have about your health.
Remember that you should feel comfortable discussing any aspect of
your health or life with your health professionals. There are no wrong questions, especially if it is something that concerns you. Do not be
intimidated by their level of education or by how busy they are. Focus on
taking an active role in your visits with the health care team members.
It may be hard to remember exactly who does what. The following table may help you understand the roles of each person on your care team.
Role in your care
Work closely with your medical team to take an active role in your health care.
Current as of:
March 12, 2014
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
& Stephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
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