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Commonly Asked Questions by Patients

Because understanding your health is important, we have provided various ways to assist you in finding medical information. Whether it is a medical condition, test or treatment, we hope you are able to locate the information you need. In addition, listed below are some of the most common asked questions that we receive. You may click on the question to view the answer.

  • What should I do if I think I am having a heart attack?

    IF YOU THINK YOU ARE HAVING A HEART ATTACK, PLEASE DO NOT CALL CARDIOVASCULAR ASSOCIATES. CALL 9-1-1 IMMEDIATELY. Emergency medical service teams are better equipped to handle active heart attacks. Chest pain can be a warning of heart disease--or it can be a symptom of a heart attack. Other symptoms are: discomfort or pain going to the neck, back, jaw, arms, or shoulders; numbness or tingling in one or both arms; nausea or vomiting; shortness of breath; extreme fatigue; sweating; weakness, dizziness, or passing out; or indigestion (heartburn). If you or a loved one ever experience chest pain--especially if one or more of the other symptoms are also present--seek medical attention immediately by
    calling 9-1-1.

  • What is a VAP or LMC test?

    The VAP (Vertical Auto Profile) test is an expanded cholesterol test that provides additional information to identify heart disease risk. Like routine cholesterol tests, the VAP Test measures total cholesterol, HDL (good cholesterol), LDL (bad cholesterol), and triglycerides. However, it also measures important cholesterol components that are significant "markers" for heart disease. The test can be done without fasting.

    The LMC is a grouping of 30 tests used to measure various components of the blood, such as proteins, enzymes, minerals and waste products. The lab values from these tests assist the physician in determining the patient's overall health as well as specific risk factors for cardiovascular health and guidance in methods of treatment.

  • If I am diagnosed with heart disease, what are my treatment options?

    Many heart conditions can be treated without surgery. Today's treatments for heart disease include many new medications and non-surgical procedures such as balloon angioplasty, atherectomy, and stents. Heart patients can also greatly improve their health by making positive lifestyle changes.

  • What does it mean when a physician is Board Certified for a certain specialty?

    After nearly 20 years of reflection and debate, the Board began to issue time-limited certificates in 1990. To the ABIM, continuous professional development is the obligation of an accountable profession, and it promotes the continuing medical education of physicians and improves the quality of patient care. Twenty-three of the 24 member Boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMB), of which the ABIM is a member, require their diplomats to maintain their certification.

    The goal and objectives of CPD are to:

    • Improve the quality of patient care
    • Set standards of clinical competence for the practice of internal medicine and its subspecialties, and areas of added qualifications (adolescent medicine, clinical cardiac electrophysiology, interventional cardiology, critical care medicine, clinical laboratory immunology, geriatric medicine, and sports medicine), and
    • Foster the continuing scholarship required for professional excellence over a lifetime of practice.

  • What can I do to avoid heart disease?

    Each of us has our own set of risk factors for heart disease. Taken together, these factors indicate the likelihood that we will develop heart problems. There are two kinds of risk factors: those you cannot change, such as your age, gender, and family history; and those you can change, such as diet, exercise, and smoking. Health conditions such as cholesterol, blood pressure, and diabetes can be more or less important as risk factors, depending on how you manage them. Even if you know all your risk factors, you won't know for sure if you will get heart disease. However, you will get an idea of your risk for heart disease and of whether you should be making lifestyle changes to help reduce that risk.

  • What is your prescription refill policy?

    When you need a prescription refill, please call your pharmacist first. If you have an authorized refill, your pharmacist will refill your prescription. If no refills are indicated, please ask your pharmacist to call the office between 8:30 am and 4:00 pm. Your physician will give instructions to the pharmacist. Routine prescriptions, as well as sleeping pills and tranquilizers, will be refilled only during normal office hours when your physician can refer to your chart.

  • When will I get my test results?

    You may need laboratory tests, which will provide us with valuable information about your overall health. If your laboratory finding is abnormal, your physician will contact you to discuss the results. Laboratory tests performed in our office building are not provided by CardioVascular Associates. The lab is available for the convenience of our patients. Therefore, those services are billed separately from your physician's charges, and you will receive a separate statement for them.

  • Do I need to take antibiotics before my dental procedure?

    In 2008, the guidelines for recommending antibiotic prophylaxis were changed as there was no evidence that prophylactic antibiotics before dental or other procedures were of any benefit in decreasing the rate of valve infections. A study showed that the rate of episodic bacteria in the blood stream was not affected by these procedures. This led the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology experts to recommend prophylactic antibiotics for only 3 groups of patients:

    1.- Those who have artificial heart valves,
    2.- Patients who have had prior episodes of infection on their heart valves, or
    3.- Patients with certain types of congenital heart disease

    That excludes the vast majority of patients who in the past have been told that they needed antibiotics before dental or other procedures that might transiently introduce bacteria into the bloodstream. Please discuss with your physician at your next office visit about these changes.

  • Who do I contact with an insurance/billing question?

    As a courtesy to you, CardioVascular Associates will file your insurance claim for you. Please make sure our receptionist has all of your correct information on file when you sign in, along with any referrals that may be required by your insurance company. Please remember that certain insurance policies require precertification and/or second opinions for some tests, so check with your insurance company to be sure of their policies.

    Please be prepared to pay any co-pay and/or deductibles required by your insurance company at the time of service. After your insurance company responds to your claim, you will be billed for any balance on your account. You may wish to pay by Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover. If you are unable to pay your account in full, please contact our Patient Financial Services department at 205-599-3540 or 1-800-365-3091 during the hours of 8am-5pm to discuss possible payment arrangements on your account.

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