An Interview with Dr. Bob Arnot
Gary Barg: Your
dad passed away after a massive
heart attack. I was hoping you would
talk a little bit about your role as
a family caregiver.
Well, with both my parents, there
were a number of chronic diseases
that they had. Both of them
actually did have heart disease.
I, as a physician and advocate, of
course, was really trying to upgrade
their care, which is a tough, tough,
tough thing to do. You first and
foremost have to be a disruptor
because, after all, Mom or Dad is
very comfortable being wherever
their head is at, being in with
their old doctor. With both my
parents, I had to push.
For instance, my mother had an
aortic valve that had closed down to
a very small area, way passed the
time she should have had surgery.
Her doctor actually sent her home
and said, “I will see you in six
months.” Well, she was not
going to come back in six months.
She had a near-death episode and,
fortunately, we got her into the
hospital, got the right surgeon and
a new aortic valve. She survived,
but the tough thing about being a
caregiver is that it’s not enough to
just care an awful lot and do
everything humanly possible.
You have to be able to navigate the
health care system, which is far
Take, as an example, someone like
my father who already had a first
heart attack. I pressed and
pressed to make sure that he was on
the right kinds of medications and
got a lot of pushback from his
doctor, like “Oh, he is old and it
kind of does not matter.” So
it is a tough battle out there.
That is why I am so proud of the job
we have done with this
healthyheartsinharmony.com Web site.
GB: Here you
are, a noted physician, and your
dad’s doctor was giving you
pushback. Imagine what happens
to family caregivers who aren’t
doctors. What should caregivers
expect after their loved one comes
home from the hospital after having
a heart event?