Parent Q&A

Cardiologist referrals Jul 3, 2020 (2 responses below)
Seeking Excellent Cardiologist ASAP Feb 17, 2020 (1 responses below)
Looking for good cardiologist in Oakland/Berkeley Feb 3, 2020 (1 responses below)
Need rec. for cardiologist for adult woman Jun 30, 2016 (2 responses below)
  • Cardiologist referrals

    (2 replies)

    Last year my husband had some cardiac testing and it was determined he has 50% buildup in his LAD and his cholesterol was slightly elevated. He saw two cardiologists who both said he should take statin meds to reduce cholesterol based on his age (early 50s) and family history.  He decided to see a nutritionist to see what he could do to avoid meds. For five months now, he’s been eating a very clean vegan diet, has increased his cardio to almost daily biking, walking, swimming or elliptical machine.  He also takes a bunch of supplements per the nutritionist’s prescription. He just had his cholesterol retested and is very upset that, while he brought his cholesterol down, his LDLs are still high (120).  

    Can anyone recommend an excellent cardiologist who is also knowledgeable about and open to ways of treating such issues without medication? Thank you!

    RE: Cardiologist referrals ()

    I don't have the answer to your question, but I have sympathy and compassion and a similar experience to share. My family history has awful cardiovascular disease and so I was tested early for high cholesterol. At 21 I found out that my cholesterol was terrible and so I became a vegetarian and worked hard. One year later, I had my cholesterol tested again and it was exactly the same. Not even one point different. That was devastating to me, and so I did some research (which was hard to do back then in the time before ubiquitous internet). I found out that only a smaller percentage of people are able to control their serum cholesterol with diet. :( But, a couple of things: since I was of childbearing age, statins were a bit of a no-no. So, I tried Niacin instead. You have to ramp up very slowly because it causes flushing which is not pleasant. But, I ended up on a high enough dose that it did wonders to my cholesterol! Hooray! And, when I was done having my kids, I did go on a statin. My family history was too terrible, I was getting sick of the niacin, and the more they look into statins, the better they look in terms of non-cholesterol benefits too! So, I am happily off niacin now and have been on a statin for over a decade with great labs and peace of mind. :) Good luck in your journey! 

    RE: Cardiologist referrals ()

    Respectfully, as a physician, statins have a demonstrated track record in reducing both cardiac events, cardiac mortality, and even all cause mortality in multiple randomized trials. It would be standard of care to recommend statins in this setting, particularly given your husband's confirmed coronary artery disease and high cholesterol. If I were in that predicament, I would absolutely take the statin. 

  • Seeking Excellent Cardiologist ASAP

    (1 reply)

    I am a single parent, female, in my 50's, who saw a cardiologist at Berkeley Cardiovascular Group a year ago regarding arrhythmias, occasional chest pain, and shortness of breath. I had an Echocardiogram and was given a Holter monitor to wear for two weeks. I didn't hear from the cardiologist following the tests so presumed everything was ok. A few weeks ago, (almost a year later), I took my blood pressure and it was 215/110. I walked to Alta Bates ER and was sent home later that day when it was 179/90. I called the cardiologist, who did not remember me, took a good bit of time to find my records, and then told me I had "thickening of the heart walls" and needed to come in. He would not answer questions on the phone. When I saw him, a few weeks ago, he said I did not have Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy which is what "thickening of heart walls " translated into in an online search, but that I had "Left Ventricular Hypertrophy." He made light of both the condition and the arrhythmias, saying they were both "common" and that everyone had arrhythmias. I can't read the echocardiogram results myself, and nor do I feel confident in this doctor and so I'm looking for a new cardiologist. The family history is not good: My father, fit, slim, and otherwise healthy had his first heart attack at 30, then a pacemaker, later an aortic aneurysm in his 50s, and heart attack that killed him at 70yo. A brother had heart surgery (a device placed in Left Femoral Artery for 90% blockage) at 40yo, and my sister died in her 40's of a pulmonary embolism. I have read a bit, and am now wondering if my father might have had Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy and thus perhaps I might. It may be difficult to get his records in Europe but I have written. I'm wondering where to start. Cardiology Genetics? Or a cardiologist with a specialty? Should I go to UCSF or Stanford? I will travel. I would like to reverse the LVH if it is possible but I understand if I have cardiomyopathy it will not be possible. I have not taken any medications my entire life except the odd antibiotic dose and now feel I have to take the Losartan prescribed to lower blood pressure. I'm hoping that there are others on BPN who have been on this path themselves or with a loved one, and if so, might be able to offer suggestions, and especially names of top cardiologists/specialists/ cardio geneticists (with or without a wholistic/alternative bent but I lean towards latest research/treatments and alternative/holistic medicine) who are at least at the top of their field, are highly recommended and current with the latest treatments. I want to be here for my kids as long as possible. Thank you!

    Hi Aisling, I'm so sorry you have had trouble finding care you trust.  My brother was sent by his general cardiologist (an Army doctor) to Matthew Wheeler at Stanford to diagnose a genetic left ventricular (non-compaction) cardiomyopathy.   He found him and the center there to be very competent and knowledgeable and I believe they specialize in genetic conditions like these.  If Stanford cannot see you, perhaps they can recommend another general cardiologist you can see first.  Best of luck to you! 

  • Hello, I am a 52 year old woman and am looking for an excellent, kind cardiologist after a recent atrial fibrillation event. I am currently slated to work with Dr. Luisa Munoz and wonder if people have experience working with her or have experience working with other doctors who are interested in life-style-based approaches when possible over heavy medication. Feel free to contact me offline. Thank you!

    Thomas Gregory Quinn in Oakland is very thorough, patient and gentle.
    He also returns calls.
    All the best

  • Need rec. for cardiologist for adult woman

    (2 replies)

    Hi all,

    There are no current recommendations for adult cardiology in E. Bay.  Do you have a good referral for 50+ woman.  Blue Shield and/or Sutter, if possible.  (Pretty sure my insurance no longer contracts with Stanford, but UCSF is probably covered.)


    You should try Stanford. They take most insurances, even people with Medi Cal. Their Cardiology department is top of the line. Years ago, they saved my life, so I highly recommend them!! Best Wishes!

    I see Dr Luisa Muñoz at Berkeley Cardiovascular and think she's great!

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Cardiologist for Adult

September 2004

We have a PPO insurance so can to almost any doc. Looking for a cardiologist in reasonable proximity to Berkeley or Richmond areas. Husband was long ago diagnosed with a heart palpatation yet has not gone to a doctor in over 10 years. So someone approachable and who can take a little time to educate/ give info. would be appreciated. anon

Dr. Robert Greene, whose offices are located at Alta Bates Hospital, is a very skilled and personable adult cardiologist. He is a great listener and does not rush you. I highly recommend him. Diane
My husband sees Dr. Michael Lee at Cardiovascular Consultants in Oakland. We like him, and I can recommend him with confidence. You asked for a doctor who would take the time to educate you, and Dr. Lee certainly did this. We first went there when my husband was having unexplained fainting spells, and Dr. Lee spent a lot of time (nearly an hour!) listening to us and suggesting possible causes. After he diagnosed the problem, he took the time to explain it with patience and professionalism. Dr. Lee has also been flexible in treating my husband's high cholesterol; when my husband wanted to stop taking medication to try to control it via diet and exercise, Dr. Lee agreed. His office is at 365 Hawthorne Ave. #201, and the phone is 510-452-1345. Happy Heart
I have worked as a heart nurse at Alta Bates for many years, and love all the partners in the Berkeley Cardiovascular Medical Group. They are all very knowledgeable, excellent physicians who stay current with the latest research and medications. Personality wise, I think Dr. Jack Edelen and Dr. Dan Hill are the most approachable, and I am sure they will answer all your and your husband's questions. Their office is in Alta Bates (on Ashby), and they can be reached at 204-1691. You may have to wait several weeks(or more)for a new appointment. Good luck! Heart RN
March 2003

Does anyone have a recommendation for a great cardiologist, preferably in the East Bay? Does anyone have any comments, pro or con, about Dr. Neil White or Dr. Sally Davis, two cardiologists in Walnut Creek that my doctor mentioned to me. I need to see a cardiologist about an ongoing rapid heartbeat. Thanks! Anon

Hi, I am an RN in the Electrophysiology Lab at Alta Bates, where we diagnose and treat abnormal heart rhythms all day long. We have two absolutely fantastic cardioloists who specialize in abnormal heart rhythms: Dr. George Horvath and Dr. Susan Eisenberg. I can't say enough wonderful things about them both, and I can assure you that both are excellent clinically. They also are both very pleasant, patient, and have a great bedside manner. Both will take as long as necessary with you and your family to explain your condition, tests, medicines recommended, etc. My sister had an abnormally fast heart rhythm a few years ago, and Dr. Eisenberg treated it successfully with a catheter ablation. The only caveat is that both dr. Horvath and Dr. Eisenberg are busy, and it may take a bit of a wait to schedule an appointment with them, but they are worth the wait as long as your condition is stable. You can reach the Berkeley Cardiovascular Medical Group at 204- 1691. Gayle
I highly recommend Dr. George Horvath at Berkeley Cardiovascular Medical Group (at Alta Bates). 204-1691 He was the only doctor who was able to diagnose my intermittent rapid heart beat (first felt during pregnancy). He is extremely knowledgeable about electrical irregularities and was very good at explaining my choices for treatment. Jennifer
August 2003

I'm looking to find an excellent cardiologist in the Bay Area for my mother age 65. She lives in Japan, just had a minor heart episode (chest pains, angiogram) and needs to find a cardiologist to be her Stateside doctor. She needs to be seen within the next 60 days for follow-up. Can anyone recommend a great cardiologist? Thanks!!! Julie

I highly recommend California Pacific Cardiovascular Associates in San Francisco. I worked for this large Pacific Heights group for 7 years before becoming a SAHM, and I would trust my own family in their care. Specifically I would recommend Drs. Peter Hui, Bruce Brent, Richard Francoz, and Charlie Morris. Their number is (415) 923-3006. They work on referrals from primary care physicians mostly, so explain to the receptionist that your mother is coming from out of the country, and they should be able to accomodate you. Best of luck. heidi
William Parmley at UCSF is fantastic. He's an excellent cardiologist and a warm and lovely person. At one time or another he was the president of the American College of Cardiologists, and he was named in one of those national polls as one of the nation's best. But the nicest thing about him is that he is such a nice person. You can't go wrong with him. Emily
I wish your mother well. I have two recommendations. The first is Dr. J. Daniel Hill. He is associated with
Berkeley Cardiovascular Medical Group Alta Bates Medical Center 2450 Ashby Avenue Berkeley, CA 94705 (510) 204-1691.
My husband has seen him for 20 months now and through two heart attacks and angioplasties. We love him, but don't like how his office is run. When we were looking for a cardiologist, Dr. Hill was highly recommended by cardio technicians from Marin to SF. His practice and partners we were told are one of, if not the, best. The second is
Dr Andrew Benn, associated with John Muir 106 La Casa Via #140 Walnut Creek, CA 94598 (925) 274-2860
My parents who have extreme heart conditions see Dr. Benn. He has treated them for the past year since they moved from Chicago and has improved their health. They find him extremely personable and like his office. Good luck. Linda
This is a biased recommendation as I am recommending my dad. He has been a cardiologist at Summit/Merritt Hospital since 1974 and is the head of the Cardiac Cath. Lab (he may be the Chief of Cardiology too but I am not sure if he gave that up). In any case, he is not only an excellent and knowledgeable practioner who loves what he does and works hard to keep up on the latest developments in heart medicine, but he also has a fabulous bedside manner (he actually won an award for his bedside manner while in training). Years ago I worked at Summit Medical Center and I was very proud to be his daughter because he is such a kind and friendly doctor. His patients really adore him. Lastly, his office staff is courteous and helpful. Earl Holloway, M.D. 510-654- 7525. Lisa
Dr. Richard Edelin (or Edelen)-- he works out of Alta Bates -- he's calm, and explains the details of the treatment. anon

Pediatric Cardiologist

May 2008

We are waiting for CT scan results and expecting that we will soon be told out 6 year old needs heart/blood vessel surgery to correct a previously undiscovered malformation. (We knew he had a murmur, and respiratory problems, but now it turns out that a blood vessel is compressing his trachea and will need likely need to be re-routed for him to have a normal life without fear of respiratory distress with every cold. Before, we were told he had croup and/or asthma and was on meds for that, but we have pushed and finally got some answers...) People have recommended Dr. Hanley at Stanford, but my questions is this: Has anyone that has Kaiser needed major pediatric cardio-thoracic surgery performed for their child? Who did Kaiser refer you to for the surgery, and where was it done? Did you have to fight to get seen by the person you wanted? Were you successful?

As a follow up question - does anyone know of a child therapist of counselor that specializes in medical trauma/recovery? Our child is not an infant or toddler - he's six, and he's already dealt with several MAJOR medical issues and scary events. I want to make sure he gets the help he needs before and after the surgery (if we end up there...) Has anyone successfully convinced Kaiser they should pay for that kind of counseling, or do they do it in-house and are there reviews? Thank you. Worried Mom

Can you take your child to Children's Hospital and their great cardiology department? That's where you will get the best care, including child life services to help mentally prepare your child (and you!) for surgery pre and post-op. Dr Hanley is part of the team at both Stanford and Children's, by the way. anon
I don't have Kaiser, but wanted to share a bit of our experience with you and offer another recommendation for Dr. Hanley if that's a possibility for you. He operated on our son when he was 18 months old (he's now 6), and I know what a scary time it can be. We felt so confident in Dr. Hanley, who met with us 1 week prior to the surgery. He was very open and patient with our questions and concerns. And Children's Hospital did have a children's psychologist who met with us....obviously not very necessary for an 18 month old, but would have been beneficial for a 6 year old. I think the other thing that helped me relax was when I realized the surgery wasn't optional and was out of my control. Therefore, I had to trust the surgeon to do his/her job and my role was to do the most research I could, ask all the questions possible, and stay calm so I could support my child (not easy for me as I'm the nervous type by nature). I will say it's amazing how quickly children recover from s! urgery. Our problem was to keep our son from being too active afterwards! Just wanted to wish you well in your journey. All the best to you and your son. anon
Hi Worried Mom, My name is Anna, Mom to Summer. My daughter was born with a complex heart defect and Dr. Hanley was the assistant surgeon for both her surgeries \x96 she\x92s waiting for one more. Summer\x92s primary surgeon is Dr. Olaf Reinhartz \x96 same practice and he studied under Dr. Hanley.

Your son is in very capable hands with Dr. Hanley. We did a lot of research and found that the entire practice is nothing short of phenomenal. In fact, a friend who went through medical school and practices in NY said that he would travel across the country to take his kid to Dr. Hanley if he needed heart surgery. That\x92s saying a lot since John\x92s Hopkins is closer to him and is basically the birthplace of pediatric cardiology.

We don\x92t have Kaiser but here are some questions I would ask Dr. Hanley and your son\x92s cardiologist. 1. What kind of follow-up care will be required long-term? Kids born with heart defects are different than adults who get heart disease. I would ask that your son be followed by a pediatric cardiologist. 2. Does Kaiser offer a child life specialist? Child life specialists will offer you and your son tips on how to deal with the stress of pre and post surgery. Ask to see one sooner rather than later. If you\x92re going to be driving down to Packard for the surgery, they should have child life specialists on staff that Kaiser can refer out to you. \x96 A child life specialist is basically the answer to your child therapist question. They have an advanced degree in child life rather than psychology but cover similar topics with an emphasis on the development of children with chronic illness.

Dr. Hanley also performs surgery out of Children\x92s Hospital Oakland. He has one practice based out of Stanford but has offices at 3 and possibly 4 hospitals in Northern California. Children\x92s Hospital Oakland is one of the other locations. I found it\x92s very convenient to live just 5 minutes away from the hospital so that my husband and I can go to and from the ICU as Summer recovers from heart surgery. Packard can be a long drive when you're sleep deprived and stressed out. The upside is (at least so I hear) the cardiology ICU is nicer at Packard than the one at Children\x92s Hospital Oakland. Maybe ask to visit both and then decide for yourself.

UCSF has a very large pediatric cardio-thoracic surgical team and they have a new cardiac ICU. One thing to note is that Dr. Hanley started there and they lost him to Stanford.

So you have a couple of options. I wish I could be more helpful on the Kaiser thing. Anna

December 2002

We need a pediatric cardiologist for routine follow-up of a child with a congenital heart defect, corrected by neonatal surgery (elsewhere). So we're looking for a very current, skilled cardiologist and cardiology department -- complications are rare in this situation, but do occur, and I'd like to become associated with a group I'd trust with any diagnostics and treatment required. I wonder if anyone has knowledge of pediatric cardiology both at Children's and at UCSF (even Stanford -- not so far to go for something so important) and could advise me on this. Thanks! Kate

If you live in the East bay I would recommend going to the Pediatric Cardiology Group at Oakland Children's Hospital. The physicians are all excellent, approachable, experienced and parents themselves. I would especially recommend Dr Ziad Saba. greg
Our son was born with a very serious heart defect and has had multiple surgeries at UCSF. We have been very impressed with the cardiologists there. His surgeon was Dr. Frank Hanley who pioneered the surgery on his particular defect. Dr. Hanley is now at Stanford, where I understand they also have a very highly regarded program. Anyway, we are with Kaiser and see Dr. Desai at the Hayward Kaiser facility for follow up cardiology appointments. At UCSF, we see Dr. Teitel (he is very good, as have been all the cardiologists that we have dealt with there). A doctor at Children's (whose name escapes me) actually diagnosed the condition when he was born and also seemed very good. We have been impressed with almost all of the cardiologists that we have met (except the Kaiser SF doctor who did not have a very good bedside manner). Good luck! terry
I wanted to second an earlier posting regarding Dr. Avasarala. Dr. Avasarala is an outstanding Pediatric Cardiologist. Our daughter was born in July with a complex congenital heart defect which required surgery and an 8 week stay at Children's Hospital Oakland. Dr. Avasarala has been with us every step of the way. He has been amazingly patient, kind and supportive of our entire family over the past months. I can't say enough positive things about his care. He has been a lifesaver for us, literally.

The team of cardiologists at Children's are fantastic. I feel confident that we are receiving the best possible treatment and I recommend the CHO Pediatric Cardiology team highly.

I have taken my daughter to Dr. Kishor Avasarala at Children's Hospital Oakland since birth. She has only required monitoring so far, but he has been very wonderful, supportive, and non-alarmist. He is an extraordinarily kind man, and a very good physician. When my child has her echocardiograms, he always comes in to the room and checks in with the technician instead of waiting for the printout. He has always responded quickly to my calls with concerns, and has squeezed us into his schedule when we needed a reassuring check-up before a trip on two or three occasions (even though we weren't due for a checkup for 2 more months, he saw us anyway to ease our minds). He is fabulous. Additionally, he did inform me recently that Dr. Frank Hanley's move from UCSF to Stanford did not negatively impact the surgical unit at CHO--he is still there once a week, along with Lenardo Thompson and several other very good surgeons. Best of luck in your search for a good doctor, Elizabeth B.
We have taken our 2.5 year old to Kathleen Newkumet at Children's Hospital since birth, and have been very happy with her. She is warm, personable, and very informative. We had a lot of questions, and never felt rushed when we spoke with her. She saw us through a really difficult time with our daughter's diagnosis and open heart surgery to repair her problem. We felt Dr. Newkumet was professional and compassionate throughout our experience with her. The # to the CHO Cardiology Clinic is 428- 3380, and you can reach her there. -Ellie
Kate, I am in fact a local pediatric cardiologist, and I can only answer in very general terms so as not to betray a bias. I would say that the Bay Area is a great place for up-to-date cardiology care, all 3 major institutions are using leading edge techniques and technologies and the ''congenital surgeons'' are wonderful.

If your child may require further surgery, the situation is that Dr. Frank Hanley, who has a world-class reputation, moved his entire department to Stanford last year and this same group also performs all heart surgery at CHO. When Hanley left UCSF, Dr. Tom Carl was recruited there, and Children's/ Stanford also recently recruited Dr. John Lamberti, who headed the surgery program in San Diego for 20 years. You can look up their bios on the internet. Hopefully you won't need their services, though.

UCSF and Stanford are academic medical institutions, their cardiologists are professors and there is an emphasis on research as well as patient care, which is of benefit for patients with rare diseases, etc. The Children's Hospital group is private practice with their offices at the hospital, but not hospital employees. Their compensation comes only from patient care, although they participate in clinical research for access to new treatments.

If you are in the East Bay, CHO is much more convenient, esp. in an emergency. If you are further east or north, the institutions all have outreach clinics in varying locations. Your pediatrician very likely has someone or an institution they have most experience with, and it's helpful if they are used to working together.

My advice? Since your child is repaired and primarily needs monitoring, choose a physician you trust and can communicate your concerns with and you feel is caring and thoughtful. Someone who, if they tell you everything is fine, but you have a nagging doubt or wonder why they haven't ordered a particular test in a while, you feel comfortable in bringing it up. Bedside manner is a minor consideration when you are facing major heart surgery, you want talent, pure and simple. Long-term care, however, needs to have an element of ''caring''.

Best wishes Anon