Your Health Checkup: Hope for People with Heart Failure: Get a Second Opinion

“Your Health Checkup” is our online column by Dr. Douglas Zipes, an internationally acclaimed cardiologist, professor, author, inventor, and authority on pacing and electrophysiology. Dr. Zipes is also a contributor to The Saturday Evening Post print magazine. Subscribe to receive thoughtful articles, new fiction, health and wellness advice, and gems from our archive. 

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Last week a friend from long ago asked for advice after he developed heart failure. I told him that such dramatic changes have occurred in the care of patients with heart disease that locating an expert familiar with the new approaches might prolong his life.

Sir William Osler, a famous Canadian physician and co-founder of Johns Hopkins Hospital, once said that the young physician begins his life using twenty drugs to treat one disease while the old physician concludes his life with one drug to treat twenty diseases. This aphorism is no longer applicable, if it ever was, since the choice for treating most heart problems has expanded beyond the capability of any one drug or even one cardiologist unless they specialize in that particular area. While the choice may not be twenty drugs for one disease, but more than one is often the rule and not the exception.

Thus, my advice to patients questioning their care is to seek a second opinion from a cardiologist specializing in the area of their problem. Do not be afraid of hurting the feelings of your present doctor. Any physician truly interested in your wellbeing values a second opinion from another specialist that may help direct your care.

Finally, do not let the present pandemic prevent you from seeking appropriate medical support. Delaying needed treatment will only adversely affect your health.

Featured image: Oleh Slepchenko / Shutterstock