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Cardiac Rehabilitation Team

Topic Overview

Following a diagnosis of heart disease, a cardiac event, or surgery or another procedure, you will encounter many health professionals. Each will have a specific role in your cardiac rehabilitation (rehab). Whether you have had cardiac surgery or have been diagnosed with a heart condition, a team of specialists will assist you with all of your cardiac needs.

Depending on your diagnosis and planned course of treatment, you will probably be in close contact with many health professionals in the hospital. After you leave the hospital, it is important for you to stay in touch with your doctor or other health professionals who can continue to watch your progress and health status. You will probably keep in close contact with your primary care physician and your cardiologist. You should also be aware of any local rehab programs or support groups.

Remember, everybody's experience is different. A variety of health professionals can help guide you through your treatment. And it's best if you are willing to help make sure the treatment fits your experiences.

Understanding your providers' roles

You may need a team of health professionals, including specialists and generalists, to help treat your heart condition and manage your treatment plan. Although you may not need help from all of these providers, be aware of the types of professionals that you may encounter. It is important that you understand their roles so you can take advantage of their expertise.

The following table outlines the types of health professionals who may be involved in your treatment.

Your health care team

Team member

Who are they?

What is their role?

When would you see them?

Primary care physician Internist, family doctor Manage your medical care Regular visits (about 2 to 4 each year)
Cardiologist

Heart specialist, including cardiac electrophysiologist

Provide you with specialty medical care for your heart Sometimes for regular visits, or whenever your condition changes
Other specialist physicians Nephrologist (kidney specialist), neurologist (brain/nerve specialist), lipid disorder specialist, endocrinologist, or physiatrist (rehab specialist) Provide you with specialty medical care in area of specialization Whenever complications arise or special procedures need to be done
Cardiac surgeon A physician specialist trained to operate on your heart Performs surgeries, such as coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgeries and heart transplants If you are considering a cardiac surgery or to follow up after the operation
Nurse/nurse practitioner/nurse educator Type of nurse Educate you/help you take control of your condition Whenever your medicines/ diet/self-management need to be explained
Physical therapist/ occupational therapist/rehab nurse Specific type of professional or nurse Assist with building up your strength during recovery and rehab While you are in the hospital and after discharge
Physical therapist or exercise physiologist Expert in improving health through exercise Help you develop and maintain appropriate exercise and lifestyle behaviors Inpatient recovery and outpatient rehab
Registered dietitian/ nutritionist Expert in diet and nutrition Help you develop and stay with an appropriate diet For help creating a heart-healthy diet that works for you
Psychiatrist/ psychologist/ social worker/ case manager Mental health professional (except the case manager) who helps coordinate care and provider services Help you cope with psychological aspects of your condition; help coordinate your care and services Regularly (perhaps weekly), for as long as needed
Pharmacist Pharmacology professional Answers questions about how often to take your drugs and the side effects they might cause Whenever you need prescriptions filled

Related Information

References

Other Works Consulted

  • Thompson PD (2012). Exercise-based, comprehensive cardiac rehabilitation. In RO Bonow et al., eds., Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine, 9th ed., vol. 1, pp. 1036–1041. Philadelphia: Saunders.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Specialist Medical Reviewer John A. McPherson, MD, FACC, FSCAI - Cardiology
Last Revised September 27, 2012

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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