Beta-blockers, choosing a surgeon and important questions
Q . Is it dangerous to take a beta-blocker for high blood pressure?
There was one study that found that beta-blockers may increase the risk of having a heart attack or stroke if you are using them to treat high blood pressure alone. If you are taking a beta-blocker, discuss it with your doctor. Warning: Don’t stop taking the drug on your own.
Beta-blockers, also known as beta-adrenergic blocking agents, are medications that reduce your blood pressure by blocking the effects of the hormone epinephrine, also known as adrenaline. When you take beta-blockers, the heart beats more slowly and with less force; this reduces blood pressure. Betablockers also help blood vessels open up to improve blood flow.
Doctors prescribe beta-blockers to prevent, treat or improve symptoms in a variety of other conditions, such as irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia), heart failure, chest pain (angina), heart attacks, glaucoma, migraines, generalized anxiety disorder, hyperthyroidism and tremors.
The following are the brand names for common beta-blockers: Sectral, Tenormin, Kerlone, Zebeta, Cartrol, Tandate, Lopressor, Toprol XL, Corgard, Levatol, Visken, Inderal, Betapace and Blocadren.
Q. How should I go about choosing a surgeon?
The American College of Surgeons (ACS) recommends that you look for a surgeon who is board-certified and a fellow of the college.
Specialty boards certify physicians who meet published standards. For physicians to become board-certified in a surgical specialty, they must complete the required years of residency training in that specialty, and then pass a comprehensive examination.
The specialty boards issue certificates that are valid for six to 10 years. To retain certification, physicians must become recertified and must show continuing education in their specialty.
Fellows of the ACS are board-certified surgeons whose education, training, professional qualifications, surgical competence and ethical conduct have been found to be consistent with the college’s standards. The letters “FACS” after a surgeon’s name stands for Fellow of the American College of Surgeons.
If you want to know about a surgeon, you can phone your state or county medical association for help. Or you can just ask a prospective surgeon to provide credentials. Often, you can find the information you need hanging in frames on a surgeon’s office walls.
Q. What questions should I ask before undergoing an operation?
Here is a list of significant questions you can ask your doctor before the surgery:
• Why do I need the operation?
• Do I need it now, or can it wait?
• What happens if I don’t have the operation?
• What are the benefits of having the operation?
• How long will the benefits last?
• What are the risks of having the operation?
• Are there alternatives to surgery?
• How will the surgery affect my quality of life?
• Where can I get a second opinion?
• What experience do you have performing this surgery?
• Where will the operation be done?
• Will I have to stay overnight in the hospital?
• Is it possible to have same-day surgery as an out-patient?
• What kind of anesthesia will I need?
• What are the side effects and risks of having anesthesia?
• How long will it take me to recover?
• Will I be in pain? How long will the pain last?
• When will I be able to go home after the surgery?
• What will the recovery be like?
• Can you draw a diagram and explain how you do the surgery?
• Can you please mark the part of my body you will operate on?
• Is there anything else I should know about this surgery?
Fred Cicetti is a freelance writer who specializes in health. He has been writing professionally since 1963. Before he began freelancing, he was a reporter and columnist for three daily newspapers in New Jersey. If you would like to ask a question, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.