Seeking a second opinion: When, why, and how?

In many cases, another physician's perspective about a proposed heart procedure can be helpful.

You've just found out that several of your heart's arteries are almost completely blocked. Your doctor believes bypass surgery is the best treatment option for you, but you wonder if a less invasive procedure might be possible. Or perhaps you have a heart valve that isn't working well — should you have it repaired, or fully replaced?

These scenarios are two heart-related examples that often prompt people to seek a second opinion. "But any time a physician suggests a surgery or procedure, consulting another doctor often makes sense, especially if you have questions that aren't being explained in a way that makes sense to you," says cardiologist Dr. Dale Adler, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

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