Your Healthcare Team Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)
Once you and your doctor have decided on the treatment best suited to your condition, you will become involved with a team of specialists that are responsible for the procedure from beginning to end. Based on the results of your tests, your cardiologist will help you decide what treatment is right for you. Others who may be involved in your treatment decision are a cardiac surgeon, an electrophysiologist, an anesthesiologist, a nurse, and other specialists as required.
The cardiologist is a doctor who specializes in taking care of the heart and blood vessels. This specialist examines patients to identify symptoms of heart disease using a variety of tests. If the heart problem is related to coronary artery disease, the cardiologist may recommend lifestyle changes, medications, and treatments such as coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), angioplasty, and/or stenting procedures. In situations where drug therapy and/or angioplasty/stenting are not effective or appropriate treatments, the cardiologist may refer the patient to a cardiac surgeon.
Cardiac surgeons are doctors specially trained in the surgical treatment of heart disease. Surgeons go through many years of training to learn to perform operations on the heart and blood vessels of the body.
Electrophysiologists are cardiologists who have received additional specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of heart rhythm disorders. This specialized training includes performing (electrophysiologic) testing, a procedure that diagnoses potentially serious arrhythmias. The electrophysiologist leads a team of specially trained health care professionals, technicians, and nurses who assist the doctor during the procedures.
Anesthesiologists are doctors who have specialized training in anesthesia. Their focus is on pain management and making sure that you are safe. They will be involved in all stages of your surgery – before, during, and after the procedure.
The certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) assists and supports the anesthesiologist. They are responsible for controlling the anesthesia during the operation and helping to ensure your safety following the procedure.
The radiologist is a medical doctor who works closely with the cardiologist and cardiac surgeon to provide images of the coronary arteries that help the surgeon perform the treatment procedure.
Some heart bypass operations require that the heart be stopped. The perfusionist is in charge of the heart/lung machine that keeps blood flowing through your body while your heart is at rest. When your surgery is complete, the perfusionist and the surgeon work together to restart your heart.
Nurses are a critical part of the surgical team. It is their responsibility to manage your care and comfort at each stage of the procedure – from preparation to recovery. They also assist the surgeon during the operation.
Proper nutrition is essential before surgery and during recovery. Nutritionists are highly trained experts who instruct nurses responsible for your care on how best to meet your nutritional needs and speed your recovery.
Physical therapists work with you and your doctor to help you recover physically from the surgery. They advise you on what types of physical activity you should or should not do and how best to regain your strength and mobility after surgery.
Many hospitals provide social workers who are available to discuss any needs you may have after surgery to help you make the transition back to your daily routine.
Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.