FAQs

Can I contact my physician and/or staff electronically?

NSCC has a patient portal that you can access for several purposes:

  • send and receive secure messages between you and your physician and staff via the internet
  • obtain secure access to your account
  • request prescription refills or appointments
  • request release of medical records
  • view your personal health information

You can register for the patient portal by contacting the office to obtain your personal PIN. You will then be directed to the portal site where you will create a sign-in and confidential password. All communications via the patient portal are confidential and HIPPA protected. We request that you do not send emails from any other email server; they are not secure.

General

How should I prepare for my first visit to NSCC?

The initial visit involves two parts – a history and a physical. This is the most important part of the evaluation and allows your NSCC cardiologist to begin to develop various diagnoses and treatment plans. Your interview with your cardiologist is personalized and is focused on your heart and cardiac history. We request that you bring with you to your appointment all relevant medical records (prior cardiac tests, angiograms, echocardiograms, etc.) as well as your pill bottles or updated list of medications and allergies.

The cardiologist will ask a series of questions in order to obtain “focused” cardiac information that could be relevant to underlying symptoms of cardiac disease. Some of these questions may include:

  • medical history
  • prior cardiac procedures or surgery
  • chief complaint
  • other heart-related complaints or past incidents
  • list of Medications
  • allergies
  • Past illnesses and surgeries
  • Family history
  • Non-cardiac complaints
  • Lifestyle information (smoking, alcohol consumption, etc.)

Your history and exam will determine whether or not further testing needs to be done and the urgency for the testing. If further testing is required, recommendations will be discussed at your appointment and your tests will be scheduled.

Good communication with your cardiologist is critically important to understanding your symptoms. We encourage patients to bring their spouse or significant other who can help fill in gaps in the history (or assist with translation). Please bring pill bottles (including over the counter meds), or complete list of medications with doses. Previous cardiac related medical records and cardiac testing results are also helpful.

After the history is completed, your cardiologist will carefully examine your heart for murmurs, abnormal rhythms and other findings. An electrocardiogram will be recorded and carefully analyzed for the presence of problems. The physical examination will also include listening to your lungs and blood vessels of the neck and groin; checking extremities for edema; and feeling the abdomen for tenderness or swelling.

Can I make a cardiology appointment directly?

Depending upon your health care plan a prior approval or referral may be required. Check with your insurance provider or call NSCC to find out if prior approval is required.

What should I do in an emergency?

While NSCC always has a cardiologist on call for emergencies, if you have a need for immediate attention, please call 911.

What happens if I need to be hospitalized?

NSCC has been admitting patients to Presence Resurrection Medical Center since 1989. If hospitalization becomes necessary, we admit our patients to Resurrection, which allows us to provide continuous care. The hospital is located on the same campus as our office.

Our cardiologists work together as a team combining their years of experience and knowledge. While you will typically see your ‘own’ cardiologist for office visits, one of the other partners may see you if you are hospitalized. Be assured that the partners conference with each other frequently so that your care plan will be continued without interruption.

Are my medical records confidential?

NSCC strictly follows the Federal and State of Illinois confidentiality laws (HIPPA) regarding your protected health information (PHI). We will not discuss your medical issues with any family members or friends without your written authorization. Unless you instruct us otherwise, we are permitted to discuss your case with another physician or hospital if it is regarding your care without special authorization. An encrypted copy of your chart is available if you wish to have your records shared with another physician or hospital. Written consent is required if you request your chart to be transferred.

How can I refill a prescription?

The majority of prescriptions are ordered and filled electronically. Prescriptions are issued at the time of an office visit or via an electronic or fax request from your pharmacy. Requests for refills can also be made directly from our patient portal or phone call request to the office.

What should I do if I need a copy of my medical records?

Patient records are confidential. If you need a copy to be sent to another party, a signed authorization form must be completed. We ask that you please keep us informed of any changes to your address, phone or insurance coverage.

What does it mean for a cardiologist to be Board Certified?

The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), a not-for-profit organization, assists 24 approved medical specialty boards in the development and use of standards in the ongoing evaluation and certification of physicians. ABMS, recognized as the “gold standard” in physician certification, believes higher standards for physicians means better care for patients.

What is the ACC ?

The American College of Cardiology (ACC) represents the majority of board-certified U.S. cardiovascular physicians. Most ACC members work in private group practices, with the balance working in medical schools/universities, solo practice, private hospitals, government institutions/hospitals and HMOs.

What does the FACC designation mean?

Fellowship is one of the most distinguished designations the American College of Cardiology offers its members, and is the ultimate recognition of professional achievement.

Based on outstanding credentials, achievements and community contributions to cardiovascular medicine, those who are elected to Fellowship signal to peers and patients their commitment to quality cardiovascular care through use of the FACC designation. Fellows of the ACC come from all specialties within cardiology and include adult cardiologists, pediatric cardiologists, interventional cardiologists, surgeons, researchers, academicians, specialists in a cardiovascular-related field and cardiovascular team members with advanced degrees.

The strongest evidence of achievement for those who earn the FACC designation comes from the applicant’s peers through letters of sponsorship attesting to their professional competence and commitment to excellence.

Medical

What is a heart attack?

A heart attack is an event that can damage your heart, and it is potentially life-threatening. The cause of most heart attacks is a sudden clot in a blood vessel that feeds the heart. This blood vessel may be filled with fat and a substance called “plaque” that slows blood flow in the artery or eventually breaks open, causing a clot that stops blood flow to an area of your heart muscle.

What are the warning signs of a heart attack and cardiac arrest?

Heart attack and cardiac arrest warning signs may include one or more of the following symptoms: Chest discomfort, discomfort in other areas of the upper body, shortness of breath, a feeling of impending doom, breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, jaw discomfort, arm pain, extreme fatigue, lightheadedness, sudden loss of responsiveness and no normal breathing.

What should I do if I think I’m having a heart attack?

Immediately call 9-1-1 or your emergency response number so an ambulance can be dispatched.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack, call 911 anyway. It is better to be safe than sorry. Minutes may make the difference between life and death.

What is angina?

Angina – or chest pain – can occur when the supply of oxygen, which is carried by blood to the heart, is inadequate. Angina can be described as a feeling of tightness, fullness, squeezing, heaviness, burning or pain in the center of the chest. It may be a recurring symptom. Angina can also be transferred to the left breast, left shoulder, arm, throat, jaw and or even the upper abdomen. Patients may also experience shortness of breath, sweating, weakness, dizziness, or numbness in the upper extremities with symptoms of nausea.

What is congestive heart failure (CHF)?

CHF is a condition whereby the heart can’t pump enough blood to the other organs in the body. It can result from a variety of causes including coronary artery disease, a past heart attack that left scar tissue in the heart muscle, high blood pressure, primary heart muscle disease (cardiomyopathy) and other causes.

As blood flow out of the heart slows, blood returning to the heart through the veins backs up, causing congestion in the tissues. Swelling (edema) can occur, most often in the legs and ankles, but it can happen in other parts of the body as well. Fluid can also collect in the lungs and cause shortness of breath, especially when a person is lying down. In addition, heart failure affects the kidneys’ ability to dispose of sodium and water, and the retained water increases the edema.