Frequently Asked Questions
For certain problems involving the heart and blood vessels, your primary care physician may manage your care. Examples would be high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol that are successfully treated with medication. Your family doctor will also take the lead in helping you to lose a few pounds, get more exercise, or stop smoking, if these are changes you need to make. But if your heart problems are more complicated, it’s time to see a cardiologist.
Cardiologists are the experts when it comes to diagnosing and treating heart disease. In fact, studies have shown that cardiologists are at the forefront in applying the latest research and following practice guidelines in treating patients with heart disease. And if you have another medical condition, such as diabetes or kidney disease, your cardiologist will know how to plan your care in a way that takes into account all of your health needs.
Sometimes your family doctor will ask a cardiologist to evaluate your heart and simply recommend the right treatment or further tests. An example of this might be doing a stress test in someone with a strong family history of heart disease. In other cases, however, your heart problem may be serious enough that it will require the ongoing care of a cardiologist.
Chest pain or discomfort is one of the most common reasons to see a cardiologist. Also known as angina, it may be caused by a build up of cholesterol that narrows the arteries supplying blood to your heart. If your heart can’t get enough blood and oxygen during physical activity, the result can be chest pain or discomfort. Cholesterol deposits in the coronary arteries can suddenly break open and cause a blood clot to form, completely blocking blood flow in the coronary artery to the heart and causing a heart attack. A cardiologist will use an electrocardiogram (referred to as an ECG or EKG), which traces the electrical activity in your heart, as well as blood tests, to determine whether you have had a heart attack. The information from these tests will help your cardiologist to plan the appropriate treatment for you.
When there’s a disturbance in the rhythm of your heartbeat, called an arrhythmia, you also need to see a cardiologist. Unexplained shortness of breath might be another reason, as difficulty breathing could be a sign of congestive heart failure or a problem with the valves in your heart.
We’re all used to seeing MD at the end of our doctor’s name, but you may have wondered what the initials FACC stand for. In short, they’re a sign of professional excellence. FACC means that your cardiologist is a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and has made a commitment to the highest standards of patient care.
To be considered for membership in the ACC, your cardiologist must go through years of education and training, including four years of medical school, three years of training in internal medicine, and another three or more years of specialized training in cardiology.
Additional years of training are needed for developing expertise in a cardiology subspecialty, such as electrophysiology or interventional cardiology. A pediatric cardiologist completes three years of training in pediatrics, and another three years of specialized training. And a cardiovascular surgeon completes five years of training in general surgery, followed by another two to three years of specialized training in cardiothoracic surgery.
Cardiologists, pediatric cardiologists, and cardiovascular surgeons must become board-certified before gaining membership in the ACC, passing challenging exams that thoroughly test their knowledge, judgment, and ability to provide the very best patient care. And they must maintain those skills throughout their careers by participating in ongoing training and education programs.
The initials FACC pack a lot of education, instruction, and expertise into a small space. They let you know that your cardiologist has joined with colleagues around the world to lead the way in the prevention and treatment of heart disease.
Physician assistants are health care professionals licensed, or in the case of those employed by the federal government they are credentialed, to practice medicine with physician supervision. As part of their comprehensive responsibilities, PAs conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, counsel on preventive health care, assist in surgery, and write prescriptions. Within the physician-PA relationship, physician assistants exercise autonomy in medical decision making and provide a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic services. A PA’s practice may also include education, research, and administrative services.
Nurse practitioners (NPs) are registered nurses who are prepared, through advanced education and clinical training, to provide a wide range of preventive and acute health care services to individuals of all ages. NPs complete graduate-level education preparation that leads to a master’s degree. NPs take health histories and provide complete physical examinations; diagnose and treat many common acute and chronic problems; interpret laboratory results and X-rays; prescribe and manage medications and other therapies; provide health teaching and supportive counseling with an emphasis on prevention of illness and health maintenance; and refer patients to other health professionals as needed.
Physician extenders are physicians assistants and nurse practitioners. We also refer to them as midlevel providers.
Physician extenders or midlevel providers provide quicker access for our patients to our office. Our physician extenders can answer most questions for you and have immediate access to our cardiologists. Our physician extenders see patients in the office and at the hospital in conjunction with the cardiologists.
Our nuclear lab and our echo lab is accredited by the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission.
We are currently pursuing accreditation for our vascular lab and for cardiac computerized tomography angiogram (CCTA or CTA).
Nuclear Accreditation link: ICANL
Echo Accreditation link: ICAEL
Intersocietal Accreditation Commission: Accreditation
Today’s health care organizations are held to very high levels of accountability – by peers by the general public, and by Medicare and other payers. ICANL accreditation is a means by which general nuclear medicine, nuclear cardiology, and PET facilities can evaluate and demonstrated the level of patient care they provide.
Committed to balancing the changing needs of the nuclear medicine, the nuclear cardiology, and PET communities with those of the general public, the ICANL was created by uniting physicians and technologists from the sponsoring organizations. Collectively these individuals created The Standards, an extensive compilation of documents defining the minimal requirements for nuclear medicine and nuclear cardiology laboratories to provide high quality care. Routinely revised by ICANL Board of Directors to reflect current practices, The Standards are used by laboratories as the foundation to create and achieve realistic quality care goals.
ICANL accreditation is an educational process, not a pass-fail exam.
The process begins with a comprehensive self-evaluation by laboratory staff. Completion of the application for accreditation requires information on all aspects of laboratory operation as well as the submission of actual case studies for review. After the application is submitted to the ICANL, it undergoes a confidential peer-review by the ICANL’s trained reviewers, including physicians and technologists, before a final decision is made by the reviewers, including physicians and technologists, before a final decision is made by the Board of Directors.
The ICANL does not restrict accreditation to the “perfect” nuclear medicine, nuclear cardiology, or PET facility.
Rather, an accreditation is based on a policy of substantial compliance with The Standards. The ICANL provides guidance to assist the laboratory in meeting the requirements of The Standards.
ICAEL Accreditation – A “Seal Of Approval” Patients Can Count On.
Private offices, clinics, and departments within hospitals that are accredited by the Intersocietal Commission for the Accreditation of Echocardiography Laboratories (ICAEL) voluntarily submit to a review of their daily operations. By participating in the accreditation process, these medical facilities demonstrate a commitment to the performance of quality echocardiography and strive to meet nationally recognized standards. During the accreditation process, applicant echocardiography laboratories must submit documentation on every aspect of their daily operations. While completing the application, laboratories are required to identify and correct potential problems, revising protocols, and validating quality assurance programs. Applications submitted, including samples of the echocardiograms performed, are reviewed by experts throughout the United States and Canada. Accreditation is granted only to those facilities that are found to be providing quality patient care, in compliance with the ICAEL Standards. Once granted, ICAEL accreditation is valid for a period of three years, after which time the facility must undergo a repeat evaluation.
When scheduled for an echocardiogram, patients should inquire as to the accreditation status of the facility where their examination will be performed.
Patients can rely on accreditation as an indication that the facility where their examination will be performed has proven a commitment to providing quality testing for the diagnosis of heart disorders and disease. Patients can rest assured that accredited facilities have been carefully critiqued on all aspects of their operations considered relevant by medical experts in the field of echocardiography.
If a nuclear test is performed, the results are normally ready the next working day.
If an echocardiogram is performed, results can take up to two weeks.
If a CT is performed, results are normally available in two working days.
Our technologists will notify the cardiologist if there is something concerning on any study done in our office.
Office visit notes are available 2-3 days after visit.
If you are being seen or have been seen by our physicians or physician extenders, we are able to obtain your records from the Wyoming Medical Center.
Be sure to make us aware that you have been treated at the Wyoming Medical Center so that your medical record with our office is complete.
Normally our physicians will either call you or send a letter to you if the test was ordered by them. If you do not hear anything within 5 working days, please feel free to call a nurse at our office at 266-3174 option 3 or toll-free at 1-800-445-3501 option 3.
If your test was ordered by a physician who is not with this practice , please contact the physician who ordered the test to receive your results.
Our office is on an electronic medical record since 2002. The paper records have been destroyed if the patient has not been seen in the past 11 years or since 1997. We do have records dating back to 1977, if you have seen us sometime in the past 11 years.
HIPPA regulations state we need to keep an accounting of whom and where the records are given for any purpose other than medical necessity to another healthcare facility. This is to protect your privacy as the patient from anyone accessing your medical records.
In most cases patients can come to our office, sign a release, and be given the records then.
If a release is faxed, records are faxed out the same day.
If a release is mailed, it can take up to one week for you to receive your records.
If you tell the medical assistant who prepares you to see the cardiologist or physician extender know who your referral physician is or to whom you want your records sent, we will send copies of your records to them.
If you see another healthcare provider after receiving care in our office, just let our health information department know (medical records) and we will send your records to them. This is considered continuity of care.