We are asked all of the time by women how they should best advocate for themselves inside of their doctor’s office as we would pertain heart diseases or when somebody is visiting their cardiologist. What type of advice would you give a patient on how to advocate for better health for himself or herself in the doctor’s office?
Dr. Paul Underwood:
Well, they need to be aware of what potential conditions they are being faced with. So if they are going in to be evaluated for shortness of breath or for chest pain then they typically would expect they would get an Electrocardiogram and then it should be normal. If they don’t get electrocardiogram or if it doesn’t come back as being normal then further investigations would be necessary as we stated before, then perhaps that would be an Ultrasound of the heart or perhaps a Stress Test to further evaluate it.
What the woman probably wouldn’t mind is for them to, for her to go in and say that I think I am having stomach symptoms, the doctor says well, looks you are and get some stomach medications. But that really is evaluating it to any greatest degree. And so it’s just a matter of making sure that your symptoms are evaluated whatever they are in terms of … and be comfortable with the evaluation.
Do you ever get offended when people advocate for themselves or is it actually the right thing for them to be doing?
Dr. Paul Underwood:
I think it’s absolutely the right thing for them to be doing because they are most often aware of what their symptoms are and so I will know if we are on the right track in terms of being able to reduce their symptoms and find the answer to their questions.
So it’s really, really gratifying to have an informed patient because that degree of education is very useful in terms of being able to further our knowledge and education for the patient so that they will actually, you know, do better in long-term.
Paul L. Underwood Jr., M.D., is an interventional cardiologist in Phoenix, was the 10th president of the Atlanta-based Association of Black Cardiologists 2004-2006 (ABC), Inc.