Understanding Your Doctor's Role

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If you have been diagnosed with an arrhythmia, It is possible that you may see one or more of the following types of doctors as part of your treatment.


The types of doctors who treat you can depend on a variety of factors, including:

  • Your diagnosis
  • The recommended treatment
  • The office or hospital you visit
  • Where you live
  • Your insurance

General practitioner – This doctor provides care for people of all ages and for a variety of medical conditions. The general practitioner may refer to appropriate specialists.

Internist – An internist is a doctor of internal medicine who focuses on adult medicine and has had special study and training focusing on the prevention and treatment of adult diseases.

Cardiologist – A cardiologist is a doctor with special training and skill in finding, treating and preventing diseases of the heart and blood vessels.

Electrophysiologist – This is a cardiologist who specializes in diagnosing and treating irregular heart rhythms caused by problems with the heart’s electrical system.

General surgeon – This is a doctor who treats a variety of conditions with surgery.

Cardiac surgeon – This is a surgeon who performs cardiac surgery—operative procedures on the heart.

Interventional cardiologist – This doctor belongs to a subspecialty of cardiology and specializes in catheter-based treatment of structural heart diseases. From outside the body, they insert various small instruments or tools, such as catheters or wires, using X-ray and other imaging techniques.

Interventional radiologist – An interventional radiologist specializes in minimally invasive, targeted treatments. From outside the body, they insert various small instruments or tools, such as catheters or wires, using X-ray and other imaging techniques. Interventional radiology can be an alternative to surgical treatment.

What You and Your Doctor Can Expect Of Each Other

You and your doctor are partners in your health care. The more your doctor knows about you, the better he or she is able to help you.

When it comes to your doctor, you should expect:

  • An explanation of your condition, diagnostic tests, treatment options, and risks and benefits of treatments in terms you can understand
  • Confidentiality
  • Respect and a willingness to listen
  • Sufficient time for you
  • Referrals to appropriate specialists when necessary

Your doctor should be able to expect from you:

  • Prior medical records
  • Respect and a willingness to listen
  • A healthy lifestyle
  • Attention to medical advice
  • Active participation in your care by asking questions, reporting how you are feeling, etc.

Treatment Options: What Your Doctor Considers

Your doctor considers a number of factors when making a recommendation for treatment, including:

  • Your overall health
  • The severity of your condition
  • Risks and benefits of different treatments
  • The longevity of the treatment option

After receiving your diagnosis, you may learn about different treatment options available. Ask your doctor about these treatments and if you are a candidate for them. If your doctor is unaware of a treatment or does not perform a treatment that you believe you may benefit from, consider getting a second opinion from another doctor. Remember, you need to be an active participant in your own health.