Finding Reliable Information about Cardiac Medications, Tests, and Procedures
Knowledge is power. The more informed you are about your health and any health conditions you have, the more equipped you will be to partner with your doctor for the best health outcomes. The Internet offers vast amounts of accurate information but also vast amounts of misleading information, unreliable assertions, and personal opinion. So here are some recommendations of good sites that provide reliable information and links to other reliable sites.
Where to research medicines
Knowing as much as you can about your medications helps you use them appropriately. Here are two sites with up-to-date, reliable information on most drugs.
MedlinePlus Drug Information is a service of the National Library of Medicine. Here you will find information about prescription drugs, over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, and herbs and supplements. The information covers the drug’s therapeutic purpose, how it’s prescribed, information that patients need to know, special precautions, and potential interactions with other drugs including OTC drugs, herbs, and supplements. The site also provides links to other good sources of information.
PDR.net is directed primarily toward physicians and pharmacists. The PDR stands for “Physician’s Desk Reference.” If you want a second source of information, use it in conjunction with MedlinePlus.
How to understand diagnostic tests and medical and surgical procedures
You can find good information on many diagnostic tests and procedures in the following general resources. If you are to have specific tests or procedures, your cardiologist will also provide information you need, and you typically will find that the hospital or center where you are to have the tests or procedures usually offers useful information on its website.
The American Heart Association offers excellent descriptions of diagnostic tests related to various heart conditions and their risk factors and of the procedures that may be used to treat the conditions.
The Society for Cardiac Angiography and Intervention is another source of clear, reliable information. SCAI is the professional organization of the health professionals who perform these tests.
Additional excellent sources include MedlinePlus, which offers interactive videos in addition to text articles, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, which is a part of the National Institutes of Health, and the Mayo Clinic website.
How to find patient support groups
Hundreds of support groups are scattered about the web. Many focus on specific conditions such as heart failure, while others are more general. So where should you start? First, ask your cardiologist about any local support groups, which may be both community-based and online. The following websites also offer reliable ways to get in touch with other individuals who are facing similar challenges to yours:
The Support Network is supported by the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association. It provides opportunities for conversations on various topics and issues, a chance to meet others online, and opportunities to get and give support.
Go Red For Women gives women with heart conditions a chance to share their stories and interact with others.
Mended Hearts has a long history of providing community-based and online support groups. It also provides training for group leaders and has the support of the American Heart Association.