Category Archives: ePatients

Five Questions Patients Need To Ask

Ask your DoctorWhile medical research continually expands the treatment options that doctors can offer heart disease patients, the adoption of new techniques is not universal. Studies show a wide variation in the tests and treatments that heart patients receive, depending on where they live and who their doctors are.

We’ve compiled a list of Five Crucial Questions to Ask Your Cardiologist about New Heart Disease Treatments to help you make sure you get the best care.  Here are a few highlights of the topics on that list, which you might not know about yet:

A catheterization technique called the Radial Approach has been developed that is less uncomfortable for patients, and has lower complication rates, than more traditional methods. Although this approach is used in the majority of catheterization procedures in Europe, India, China, and Japan, it’s currently only being used by 10-15% of the cardiologists in the U.S.  Does your doctor use it?

CT Angiography is a high-tech, painless, non-invasive diagnostic imaging test that can rule out heart disease, sparing hundreds of thousands of patients the risk and discomfort of unnecessary invasive testing. CTA is not widely offered and not widely reimbursed yet, but many patients feel it’s worth seeking out.  Have you and your doctor considered whether it makes sense for you?

Are you a patient who wants to make sure you are being offered the most current, least invasive tests and treatment choices? Find out for yourself about the latest options, so you’re prepared to weigh the pros and cons with your doctor, by reading our full list of Five Crucial Questions to Ask Your Cardiologist about New Heart Disease Treatments. 

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Filed under Action Resource, Diagnosis & Imaging, ePatients, Radial Approach, Treatments

Welcome to The Activated Patient Blog

Banksy Heart Doctor

Banksy photo by Eva Blue.

Our Activated Patient Blog and Twitter feed provide up-to-the minute information for patients making decisions about heart disease treatment, and seeking to control their disease, maximize their health, and live active, engaged lives.

This blog is a companion to the many in-depth articles and tools for patients and their families posted in the Angioplasty.Org Patient Center.

Blog topics will range from evaluating the pros and cons of treatments and breaking news on clinical trials, to monitoring wellness research and sharing strategies for life-style change.

There is no “one size fits all” treatment for coronary artery disease. In November 2012, seven leading professional organizations, including the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, announced new Guidelines for treating stable patients with blocked arteries, saying:

“The writing committee stresses the need to inform patients and engage them in their own care, pointing to the value of shared decision making, which also considers personal preferences… patients with stable symptoms should have the final say in how their chest pain is treated…Patient preference is very important in terms of directing care, so the answer may not be the same for every patient ….to provide quality care, we need to consistently devote time to each patient to educate them…”

Angioplasty.Org has been online for 16 years, devoted to advocating for patient participation in decision-making and providing millions of patients with in-depth medical information. We are excited to see the cardiology community acknowledging the importance of patient participation in decision-making. Information is power and our mission is to inform and empower patients to take charge of their health, work as peers with their doctors, and make choices that are right for them.

Here is the story of who we are….

A Website for Cardiologists Launches in 1997…
When Burt Cohen and I launched Angioplasty.Org in 1997, he’d been teaching cardiologists about less invasive alternatives to open heart surgery since the early 1980’s, when the concept of putting a balloon inside a heart to open up a blocked artery was first brought to the U.S. by Dr. Andreas Gruentzig. As medical communications professionals, we wanted to make sure these new technologies and emerging data were disseminated, challenged, examined and understood by as many researchers and physicians as possible.

Millions of Patients Log On…
We built a site for cardiologists, but we didn’t expect tens of thousands of heart patients to log on. Immediately after our website was launched, we began hearing from individuals with coronary artery disease who were reading clinical studies, researching doctors, asking questions about their treatment options, and telling us their personal stories. We heard from patients who had suffered permanent nerve damage after angiograms, as well as patients who six months earlier couldn’t walk without excruciating pain, and were now able to run in marathons after getting a stent. We decided to never require registration to view our “for doctors” site, never restrict public access to technical medical information, and to create a Cardiology Patients Forum where we would personally respond to patients’ questions and try to get them answers. Most importantly, we committed to advocating for patients with the leading cardiologists and researchers that we were talking to, interviewing and publishing.

Balloons, Stents, and the Internet, Explode…
Interventional cardiology — non-surgical treatment of vascular disease using catheters — is a complex, rapidly changing and controversial field of medicine that, for better or worse, grew faster than any other field of medicine in history. In the 16 years since we began this site, we have reached literally millions of patients, while remaining a grass-roots endeavor that is funded by education grants. And, we have earned a high level of respect in the professional cardiology community for our authoritative medical reporting and independent perspective: we focus all of our work on making available current, in-depth, accurate, and thoughtful information about difficult choices in heart disease treatment and management.

This Time, it’s Personal, a Commitment to Patients…
As an educator, and as the daughter of someone who underwent two bypass surgeries and multiple angioplasty procedures during 35 years of living with cardiovascular disease, I am committed to:
1) Advocating within the medical community for putting the patient’s perspective and the patient’s voice front and center. That means fighting for constant improvements in doctor-patient communication and in the safety, the comfort and the results of heart disease treatment.
2) Supporting patients in their right to educate themselves, partner with their doctors, gain access to the best treatment, and make the healthcare choices that are right for them as unique individuals.

Tweet to us @cardiopatient.

Join the Conversation
We want to share with patients what we learn in our daily discussions with leading interventional cardiologists.

We want to fuel the public conversation about advancing patient empowerment and creating a more responsive, respectful and open healthcare system.

Our focus will be on news and commentary about how patients with coronary artery disease can maximize their health and gain access to the best treatments.

We hope you will join the conversation, read and comment on this blog, subscribe to our Twitter feed, “like” us, dislike us and engage with us in our active, opinionated, courageous community of independent-minded individuals with heart disease, their families, and their physicians.

Deborah Shaw, Angioplasty.Org Patient Education Editor

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Filed under Angioplasty.Org, ePatients, History, Physician Organizations, Treatment Guidelines