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Realizing that you need to see a heart specialist can often be stressful or unsettling for some patients.  However, finding the right cardiologist is an essential part of maintaining your heart health, and should be taken seriously.  Depending on your condition and its severity, you’ll want to find a doctor that’s had experience with similar cases.  If you’re seeking a cardiologist for the first time or switching doctors, here are a few factors to consider to ensure you make the right decision.

Start With a Recommendation

The best way to begin your search is with recommendations from your primary doctor.  Depending on your location, your options for a cardiologist may be overwhelming. Your primary physician can often point you in the right direction of a few specialists that they think would be suitable for you.  Your primary doctor knows your medical history and likely has multiple relationships with specialists that can provide you with the necessary treatment. Additionally, it doesn’t hurt to take recommendations from close friends or family members that have dealt with similar situations.

Research Credentials

Your potential cardiologist’s credentials are an important part of your research.  Aside from standard medical credentials, cardiologists are often certified in numerous specialties.  Look for a doctor that is board-certified. Additionally, you’ll want to look for a physician with the acronym FACC listed at the end of their title; this means your doctor is a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology (ACC).  Your doctor being a fellow of the ACC shows that he or she is up to date in their practice and holds high standards for what they do.

Location Accessibility

You’ll want to make sure the doctor you choose makes sense with your location.  Having a heart condition can often require frequent or routine visits. For your convenience, try to find a doctor within close proximity to your regular location.   Additionally, keep in mind that your local cardiologist can provide you with exceptional care, without having to travel to a distant location or hospital. If your cardiologist finds that you need more specialized care, he or she can refer you to another heart center.

Open Communication

Having an open line of communication with your doctor is the best way to ensure you are both on the same page in regards to your treatment plan and general heart health.  Make sure to communicate any issues you are having to your doctor and ask the necessary questions. Take notice of how your doctor relays information to you and answers your questions; it’s essential that you feel like all of your concerns are being addressed correctly in an easy to understand way.