If you think you only need to see your primary care doctor for acute medical conditions, think again. Primary care physicians, in fact, are trained to provide care for the full spectrum of chronic medical conditions, among which claims the lives of some 655,000 Americans each year— heart disease.
Whether you have concerns about your heart health or just want to be proactive about it, your primary care doctor plays an integral role in your care. Let’s delve deeper into this role:
Providing Preventive Care
One of the ways your primary care physician provides preventive care is by evaluating your family health history, your own medical history, and current health condition to determine whether you have risk factors for heart disease.
The following are some of the risk factors for heart disease:
- Advancing age
- Being of certain ethnicities, including African American or Hispanic
- High blood pressure
- Unhealthy habits (heavy drinking and smoking)
If your primary care doctor identifies that you have a moderate to high risk for heart disease, you can rely on them to help you establish achievable goals that will reduce your likelihood of developing it. Your primary care provider can make recommendations and even motivate you to make healthy choices. They can also enlist your family or significant other to encourage and support you with your lifestyle changes.
Confirming a Diagnosis
Apart from determining your risk factors, your primary care doctor can also perform a physical exam and order tests to evaluate your heart health and detect possible problems with it, if you’re already experiencing some symptoms.
They can perform the following to help confirm a diagnosis:
- Check your pulse rate and listen to your heart to assess the rate, rhythm, and strength
- Monitor your blood pressure
- Order a blood test to check your cholesterol level and echo test or stress test to evaluate your heart function
As soon as your primary care physician gets an insight into your heart health and ascertains that your condition requires additional tests or specialized care, they’ll likely refer or coordinate your care with a cardiologist or other medical professionals.
Establishing Care Coordination
Too often, seeing a new doctor entails having to “tell your story” all over again. Your primary care physician can help make things convenient for you by communicating with your cardiologist (a medical professional who specializes in the treatment of heart diseases) before your appointment. Your primary care doctor can relay your medical history and all the other details about your symptoms to ensure that your cardiologist has accurate, adequate information.
Your primary care doctor probably has one cardiologist or two with whom they have a close relationship. They can even be within the same medical specialty (e.g. internal medicine), and this can work to your advantage.
The following are some of the benefits of care coordination:
- Reduces or eliminates unnecessary, duplicative tests– Because your primary care physician is already communicating with your cardiologist, you may no longer need to complete any repeat tests or screenings.
- Promotes focused care– As stated above, your primary care physician will relay your medical history, symptoms, and preferences to your cardiologist. This allows your cardiologist to get a good insight into your condition and get adequately prepared before you even get to see them.
- Facilitates treatment process– Since your cardiologist already has an idea about your condition, they know where and how to proceed and get you started quickly with your treatment.
Primary Care Doctor in Tucson, AZ
Dr. Robert Lending is a board-certified internist and lipidology specialist who prides himself not only on his extensive experience and expertise but also in his dedication to delivering comprehensive, personalized, compassionate care to the men and women in Tucson and neighboring areas. It is this dedication that drove him to offer concierge medicine—a membership-based healthcare delivery model that allows patients 24/7 access to their doctor. With concierge medicine, you can essentially have Dr. Lending at your disposal and look forward to an unparalleled patient experience and exceptional treatment outcomes.