What is a Cardiologist and how can they help you?
We asked experts to shed light on these questions.
Table of Contents
- A Cardiologist is a specialist who has expertise in the heart and the blood vessels in the body
- General cardiologists
- Rhythm cardiologists
- Interventional cardiologists
- Pediatric cardiologists
- Adult cardiologists
- The role of a Cardiologist in your health is to help to prevent and treat diseases of the heart and blood vessels
- Frequently Asked 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.
“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.
Frequently Asked Questions
What type of educational training is required to become a cardiologist?
To become a cardiologist, one must complete a rigorous education and training program that includes:
Bachelor’s Degree: You must earn a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.
Medical School: After earning a bachelor’s degree, you must complete four years of medical school to earn either an M.D. degree (Doctor of Medicine) or a D.O. degree (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine).
Residency Program: After medical school, you must complete a residency in internal medicine, which usually takes three years.
Fellowship Program: After completing residency, you must complete a fellowship program in cardiovascular disease or another related specialty, which may take an additional two to three years.
Board Certification: You must pass the national certification exams for cardiology to become board certified in the specialty.
Becoming a cardiologist requires many years of training, including a deep understanding of the anatomy and physiology of the heart and blood vessels and the ability to diagnose and treat various heart conditions.
How can I find a good cardiologist?
– Ask your primary care doctor or other health care provider for a referral
– Check with your health insurance provider to find out which cardiologists are in your network
– Look for a cardiologist who is board certified in cardiovascular disease or another related specialty
– Read reviews or ask for recommendations from friends or family members who have seen a cardiologist
– When choosing a cardiologist, look for factors such as location, office hours, and appointment availability.
How often should I see a cardiologist?
The frequency with which you should see a cardiologist depends on several factors, including age, medical history, risk factors for heart disease, and the presence of heart disease.
In general, you should see a cardiologist more often if you are at high risk for heart disease, have a history of heart problems, or have been diagnosed with heart disease than if you are at lower risk for heart disease and have a healthy heart.
Here are some general guidelines for when you should see a cardiologist:
If you have a history of heart disease or have been diagnosed with heart disease, you should see a cardiologist regularly. The frequency of your visits will depend on your condition and your doctor’s recommendations.
If you are at high risk for heart disease due to age, family history, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, or obesity, you should see a cardiologist for a checkup at least once a year.
If you experience symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, palpitations, or fainting, you should see a cardiologist as soon as possible.
If you plan to start an exercise program, or if your primary care physician has advised you to do so, you should see a cardiologist for a baseline exam before starting the program.
You must discuss your personal situation with your primary care physician and/or cardiologist to determine the appropriate schedule for your visits.
When should I see a cardiologist?
You should see a cardiologist if you have:
– Heart disease or a family history of similar conditions
– High blood pressure or high cholesterol levels
– History of smoking, diabetes, or obesity
– Chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, or fainting
– Unexplained fatigue or exercise intolerance
– Irregular heartbeat, palpitations, or a diagnosed heart murmur
– Swelling in the legs, feet, or abdomen
– Your primary care physician recommends that you see a cardiologist for further evaluation
Be sure to contact your primary care physician if you experience any of these symptoms or are concerned about your heart health. They can tell you if you need to see a cardiologist and help coordinate your care.
Remember, this information is not a substitute for professional medical advice; always consult a physician for a personalized consultation.
What does a cardiologist ask?
During an appointment with a cardiologist, the doctor will ask a series of questions about your health and medical history. Some of the most common questions a cardiologist may ask are:
“What symptoms are you experiencing?” You will be asked to describe any symptoms you are experiencing, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, or fatigue.
“When did your symptoms start?” The doctor will ask you when you first noticed your symptoms and how long they have been present.
“Have you experienced any changes in your symptoms?” The doctor will ask you if your symptoms have worsened or improved over time.
“Do you have a family history of heart disease?” The doctor will ask you if there is a family history of heart disease, stroke, or other cardiovascular conditions.
“What is your medical history?” The doctor will ask you about your general health and previous medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol.
“What medications are you currently taking?” The doctor will ask you about any medications you are taking, including prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, and dietary supplements.
“Do you smoke or use tobacco products?” The doctor will ask about your tobacco use and whether you have smoked or used other tobacco products.
“What are your dietary and exercise habits?” The doctor will ask about your diet and exercise habits to assess your overall health and identify possible risk factors for heart disease.
Based on these questions and your medical history and test results, the cardiologist can create an individualized treatment plan to manage your heart health and prevent future heart problems.
What should I expect during a visit to the cardiologist?
– A physical exam, including listening to your heart and lungs
– Review of your medical history and any risk factors for heart disease
– Diagnostic tests such as an EKG, echocardiogram, or stress test, depending on your individual needs
– Discussion of your test results and any diagnosis or treatment recommendations
– Development of a personalized treatment plan, which may include medications, lifestyle changes, or medical procedures
– Follow-up appointments to monitor your progress and adjust your treatment plan as needed
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