Me: “I’m just glad you’re okay. You’re young! This is so random and out of the blue. No one in the family has had heart problems before.”
Dad: “What do you mean? BOTH my parents had terrible heart problems. My mom had three heart attacks, my dad two.”
Me: GULP (insert frightened emoji here)
I was dumbfounded. I literally ask dozens of patients every single day their personal family history of medical problems, and I didn’t know my own! Worse, I couldn’t remember when the last time I had had my cholesterol checked was! The CDC reports that 30% of people aged 30 years or younger have not seen a primary care doctor in the last 12 months. The thought is that young people, as a whole, have a sense of “invincibility” – they see no need to see a doctor when they don’t feel sick. The fact is, we NEED to be seeing a primary care physician on a regular basis, at least annually. Our bodies are like cars, they need regular maintenance and check-ups.
Choosing the right doctor can be a difficult task. When we are in a new area, we often ask friends, neighbors, and family who they see. Our insurance plans can be restrictive in the doctors we see based on whether or not those doctors are “in-network.” That group of “in-network” doctors is typically the best place to start. But don’t just pick the first name on the list! It is important to do your homework before choosing a primary care physician. Look up the doctor online, evaluate his or her training, ensure that they are boardcertified. In particular, ensure that they are board-certified in the specific specialty that they practice. That may sound like it should be obvious, but your research may surprise you. In my particular field, I see all sorts of “board-certified doctors” practicing plastic surgery – many of them, however, were actually trained in family medicine, gynecology, radiology, or other specialties. Bottom line – find someone well-trained, well-reviewed, and then go see if they are a fit for YOU.
Dad made a full recovery and is already back home and working. He is adapting to his new lifestyle at the recommendations of his cardiologist and primary care doctor. As for me, well, I’m making plans to get in to MY new primary care doctor and get that cholesterol checked.