Desisions of the Heart
Understanding CAD | Treatment Options | Talk to Your Doctor | Resources

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

It’s important that you take an active role in evaluating which treatment is best for your coronary artery disease (CAD), as not all treatments have the same long-term outcome for all patients. In fact, studies have shown that receiving the right treatment for CAD the first time may lead to less repeat procedures and may even help patients live longer.

Your Heart Team

If your angiogram shows blockage, your case should be reviewed by a multidisciplinary “heart team” that consists of the following:
  • Medical cardiologist: a specialist who primarily treats heart disease with medications
  • Interventional cardiologist: a specialist who primarily treats CAD with stents in the cath lab
  • Cardiothoracic surgeon: a specialist who primarily treats CAD with surgery
Each of these specialists offers a unique expertise and perspective. By obtaining opinions from all of them, you will increase the chance of getting the best treatment for your particular condition the first time.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

Given the seriousness of CAD and the impact of different treatments on your quality and length of life, you should take time to consult with a multidisciplinary heart team before making any treatment decisions. The heart team should review your tests, including your angiogram, as well as your personal risk factors together and come to a consensus on the most appropriate treatment for you.

Prior to accepting or making any treatment decision, you should ask your doctor the following questions:

  1. Can my case be reviewed by a “heart team” consisting of a cardiologist, interventional cardiologist and a cardiac surgeon prior to making a treatment decision?
  2. How severe is my CAD? How many – and which – of my arteries are affected?
  3. Are there other factors in my medical history that should be taken into consideration when making a treatment recommendation (for example: age, diabetes, heart function)?
  4. Given my particular case, will a stent or bypass surgery provide better long-term outcomes for me?
  5. There are recommendations written by professional societies regarding best treatments for CAD. Is your treatment recommendation in line with those recommendations? If not, why?