What healthcare professionals might I need for heart disease?

You may need care from all or from a combination of the following healthcare providers:

  • dietitian
  • pharmacist
  • exercise specialist
  • counseling specialist

Dietitian. A registered dietitian can help you assess the way you cook and how you eat. Dietitians are trained to help people make changes to their diet. With a dietitian's help, you can devise a clear plan for changing your eating. This should help you lower your cholesterol and lose excess weight. You'll want a dietitian who works with people who have heart disease. If you have diabetes too, the dietitian will help you control your diabetes and eat healthfully for your heart at the same time. Your doctor may refer you to a dietitian. You can also find one through local hospitals and clinics.


Pharmacist. Your pharmacist can tell you how to take your medicines. He or she can also tell you about possible side effects and drug interactions. Choose one who will answer your questions or concerns. Your pharmacist can answer questions about dosage. Your pharmacist can also suggest ways to help you remember to take your medicine as directed. Select a pharmacy that can keep track of all your medicine by computer. Also, try to get all your medicine from the same pharmacy. This will reduce the risk of combining medicines that can interact in harmful ways.

Exercise specialist. Sticking with a regular program of physical activity is key in controlling coronary heart disease, also called CHD. Your doctor may want you to work with an exercise specialist. This may be an exercise physiologist. Or, it could be a physical therapist, also called a PT. It could also be an occupational therapist, also known as an OT. An OT can show you how to do your everyday tasks in ways that will not interfere with or worsen your condition.

Counseling specialist. Living with CHD can be a challenge. You may need help dealing with emotions and other issues. For instance, you may feel depressed or anxious about the future. You may need help quitting smoking, dealing with stress, or changing your feelings about exercise. A psychological counselor can help you understand what is happening to you. He or she can help you find ways to change habits that have been a part of your life for a long time. A good counselor can help you find other resources that can provide you with the support system you need. If you don't already have one, ask your doctor to help you find a counselor.

Other healthcare professionals. Depending on your health, you may need other professionals. These may include nurses, physician assistants, patient educators, and home health aides. See how can I get the support I need to control my cholesterol? to learn about groups that have information about dealing with CHD. Some of these organizations may be able to refer you to healthcare professionals.

Make a list to keep track of the names and phone numbers for every member of your team. Then share this list with each team member.


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