A Moncton man with a pre-existing heart condition says he’s been waiting almost nine months to see a cardiologist.
Ben Clements, who moved to Moncton from Toronto to start a business just over a year ago, says he was forced to fly back to Ontario at his own expense just to get a stress test.
“It’s been over eight months now and I called again yesterday and I am looking at another four to five months just to see a cardiologist,” he said.
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Clements says he spends every day waiting for that unsettling moment when his heart races out of control.
“I can actually wake up in the middle of the night with severe palpitations. It just pounds and you can feel it all though your body.”
Clements says he was diagnosed with a heart condition called tachycardia while he was living in Toronto for which he underwent surgery and now needs follow up care.
“Every three or four months I should be checked by a cardiologist and have a stress test done,” he said. “Just to see what is going on with my heart.”
Since moving home to the Maritimes and settling in Moncton, he’s hasn’t been able to get that done. He flew to Toronto to see an electro-physiologist, which cost him nearly $3,000.
According Dr. Thomas McAvinue, a cardiologist at the Moncton Hospital, Clement’s lengthy wait is not typical.
“For a non-urgent situation, somewhere between three to six months would be about average,” he said.
McAvinue says he can’t speak to individual cases due to privacy reasons, but patients who are waiting to see a heart specialist should keep very close ties with their family doctors,
who have direct access to cardiologists in an emergency.
“If the family doctor has made a referral already and there are ongoing symptoms, or a change in symptoms, or medications that are tried and they are not working, then the process needs to be updated,” he said.
Clements says he’s tried that approach to no avail and at this point doesn’t even feel safe living in New Brunswick.
He’s considered packing up and moving back to Toronto so he can have better access to cardiac care.
“I do prefer to be home, but I definitely would like to feel safe, that I will be OK with my health, and that nothing is going to happen and I suddenly just die from a heart attack,” he said.