Frequently-asked questions (faqs)

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What is a cardiologist?
A cardiologist is a physician with additional training and expertise in the evaluation and management of disease of the heart and blood vessels.

What is the difference between a cardiologist and a cardiac surgeon?
A cardiologist handles diagnosis and health maintenance while the surgeon does the heart surgeries such as open heart surgery or heart transplants. An interventional cardiologist does procedures such as balloon angioplasty and stents.

Which cardiac tests do cardiologists perform?
Interpretation of routine electrocardiograms (EKG), performance of exercise treadmill tests or stress tests, various forms of echocardiograms or heart ultrasound exams and nuclear cardiac scans or imaging as well as holter monitor studies.

Which procedures do cardiologists perform?
Cardiac catheterizations of several types, temporary and permanent pacemaker procedures, coronary angioplasty and intracoronary stent placement procedures.

When should patients be seen by a cardiologist?
Whenever a patient with a definite or suspected cardiovascular illness is not doing well or becomes seriously ill. Patients with heart disease requiring hospitalization are usually cared for or at least evaluated by a cardiologist during their hospital stay.

What is cardiac catheterization?
Cardiac catheterization (heart study) is a procedure in which a catheter (a long, thin tube) is inserted into the body via an artery or vein. The catheter follows the artery/vein to the heart. At that point, the coronary arteries (which supply oxygen rich blood to the heart muscle) are filled with contrast dye. Pictures are then taken by X-ray and then evaluated for blockages. Cardiac catheterization also allows the cardiologist to assess the pumping function of the heart and the heart valves. Other terms used to describe cardiac catheterization are: coronary angiography, angiogram and cardiac (or heart) cath. Cardiac catheterization provides more accurate and detailed information about the heart's function than other diagnostic tests. It enables doctors to diagnose several heart conditions.

Where can I find out the side effects of my medication
Talk with your pharmacist you can also find a wealth of information about medications on the internet at

My blood pressure is high what should I do?
Depending on how high it is, you may need to be seen by the doctor. Call the office to determine the best way to address your high blood pressure.

My instructions were to be fasting before getting lab work, can I drink water and take my medications?
It depends on the test being drawn call the office for instructions.

What insurance plans do you accept?
Please see the listing of the insurance plans that we accept (insert hyperlink)

What is a normal heart rate?
Between 60 and 100, if your rate seems to be changing, you should call our office for instructions or to schedule an appointment.

My heart seems to be racing, what should I do?
Please call the office, this could be a serious condition.

My heart often skips a beat, what should I do?
Please call the office, this could be a serious condition.

Why do I sometimes get dizzy when I stand up?
The body is a complex system that adjusts itself and regulates pressure. Some medications and conditions can slow this response. If you are taking a medication, call your pharmacist to see if it is an expected reaction, and they may direct you to call our office. The physician may need to adjust your medication.

How much will I have to pay for my consult?
The amount charged varies by the complexity and amount of time spent with the patient. We cannot tell you how much it will cost until we know how much time the doctor spent with you. We can give you a range.

What should my blood pressure be?
Normal range is between 110 120 over 70 80.

What is my test for?
See the list of procedures (insert hyperlink)

Why do you charge a co-payment?
This is set by your insurance company, we are under contract to collect the full amount at the time of service. If you do not pay, we will bill you and charge a billing service fee.

Why are you not open on Saturday and Sundays
Cardiology is a very demanding specialty. At least one of our physicians are on call 24/7. If you require hospitalization or emergency treatment on the weekend, the physician from Contra Costa Cardiology Medical Group that is on call will be contacted by the hospital or emergency room.

Why do doctors overbook?
What sometimes appears to be overbooking is called wave scheduling because patients will often be early or late for their appointments. Our scheduling allows the physician to be most efficient and to also allow for known variances in patient arrival and anticipated delays.

Why do you need the pharmacy information when I check in to the practice?
We now have available electronic prescribing where the physician can electronically transmit your prescription to the pharmacy before you leave the building.