What is a Cardiologist and how can they help you?
We asked experts to shed light on these questions.
Santosh Desai, D.O.
A Cardiologist is a specialist who has expertise in the heart and the blood vessels in the body
Cardiologists know all the ins and outs of the heart including its different chambers, valves, and arteries. A cardiac specialist is also well versed with the electrical conduction of the heart. Cardiologists must first be trained in Internal Medicine before they go on and specialize in cardiac issues.
Cardiologists treat any and all aspects of heart disease. Cardiologists can further sub-specialize and be experts in specific aspects of heart disease.
For instance, Interventional Cardiologists treat patients with coronary blockages, such as patients having heart attacks. Interventional Cardiologists now also treat heart valve problems using minimally invasive techniques. There are also some Cardiologists called Electrophysiologists who treat patients with electrical problems and can implant pacemakers and fix heart rhythm issues.
Some cardiac specialists can choose to be experts in the treatment of advanced heart failure, while others may choose to be experts on imaging of the heart and its structures.
Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics, Pathology and Decision Science | Author, “Curing the Cancer in U.S. Healthcare“
“General” cardiologists, both peds and adult, are the gatekeepers, general diagnosticians, they are like primary care physicians: pediatricians, internists, OBGyn, family practice MDs. They take a history, physical, general tests, and decide if a patient needs a sub-subspecialist.
Echocardiographers are general cardiologists who focus on the imaging of the heart and vessels. General cardiologists can read echocardiograms but the echocardiographers are better and spend most of their time doing and interpreting echoes rather than talking with and examining patients.
Rhythm cardiologists are general cardiologists who have had special training and care only for patients with cardiac rhythm problems. All use drugs and most do cardiac catheterizations to diagnose and sometimes treat the rhythm problems.
Interventional cardiologists have specialized training in cardiac catheterization. Thirty years ago, before modern echocardiography, caths were solely for diagnosis. With echocardiography and then with the development of treatments using catheters, more and more caths became interventional. (I did that.)
One problem of which you should be aware is this: pediatric cardiologists are trained to treat congenital heart disease and not acquired cardiac problems. We don’t treat adult heart ailments.
Adult cardiologists are often arrogant and take care of young or older adults who have congenital heart disease. For example, I recently learned of a case of a 24-year old whose adult cardiologist referred him for surgery, when we (pediatric cardiologists) have learned how to fix this without surgery.
Victor Sein, DO, MPH, FACC
Interventional Cardiologist, CardioVascular Associates of Mesa, P.C.
A Cardiologist is a physician who has completed 4 years of medical school, 3 years of internal medicine training, and then at least an additional 3 years of cardiology specialty training. Some Cardiologists have done further training in order to be able to treat heart artery blockages or electrical problems. Typically, Cardiologists work and see patients in clinics and also in hospitals.
The role of a Cardiologist in your health is to help to prevent and treat diseases of the heart and blood vessels
This includes blood flow problems such as cholesterol blockages in the heart arteries which can cause symptoms like chest pain and shortness of breath. They also can identify and treat electrical problems of the heart which can cause the sensations of rapid heartbeats or skipping heartbeats. Cardiologists also identify and treat structural problems of the heart such as heart valve problems.
People who have risk factors for heart disease such as high blood pressure or cholesterol, diabetes, peripheral arterial disease, or family history of heart problems, should be seen by a Cardiologist to be evaluated.
Dr. Ravi Kishore Amancharla
Chief Interventional Cardiologist and Electrophysiologist at Health City Cayman Islands
Cardiologists provide state-of-the-art cardiac prevention, diagnosis, and emergency care that also includes surgery, treatment, cardiac rehabilitation, and wellness services. Interventional cardiology services are the latest minimally invasive procedures offered for the diagnosis and treatment of adult cardiology conditions.
The diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of heart and blood vessel disease in children include structural, functional, and rhythm (heartbeat) problems. Specialized diagnostic equipment is available to evaluate and treat cardiac conditions in children that deliver the least invasive and most efficient methods of treatment possible.
Cardiologists also offer a wide range of adult cardiology conditions – from atrial fibrillation, heart failure and cardiac arrhythmias (heartbeat problems) – to uncontrolled blood pressure.
Cryoabalation techniques have been made available in recent years to treat atrial fibrillation.
Arrival to treatment time of less than 60 minutes is consistently provided for heart attack patients.
Always using the most up-to-date treatment modalities, Health City – a Joint Commission International (JCI) Accreditation facility – recently introduced the use of leadless pacemakers (without insulated wires) which transmits electrical pulses to the heart when the heartbeat is too slow.
Cardiac Contractility Modulation is another pioneering procedure the clinic employs and is performed by inserting a device into patients with heart failure who are not responding adequately to medical therapy. The device is just like a pacemaker but it acts differently. It does not electrically excite the muscle but it produces long term benefits in the pumping function of the heart.
Congenital and Structural Heart Disease can now be treated by percutaneous coronary intervention. This involves treating heart disease by a catheterization procedure that begins with a minimal pin-hole incision from the groin.