What is a Cardiologist?
A cardiologist has special training and skills in discovering, treating and preventing diseases of the heart and associated blood vessels, in other words, the cardio-vascular system. They sometimes work alone, other times in private group practices. Many have a special teaching interest, working at prestigious universities and teaching hospitals where they also carry out research and look after patients.
Cardiologists work with adult patients, paediatric cardiology being a separate speciality all of its own. A lot of the everyday emphasis is placed on improving the survival rates and quality of life of patients after heart attacks, heart failures and disorders of the heart’s rhythm. This essential speciality sits right at the cutting edge of innovative new therapies and technologies, emergency procedures and treatments, and also involves palliative care at the end of a cardiac patient’s life.
When to see a Cardiologist?
If your GP feels you may be suffering from a significant heart or heart and vein-related condition, they might refer you direct to a cardiologist. You might be experiencing shortness of breath, chest pains, even dizzy spells, and this will require tests. You may have a heart murmur or an ECG change that merits specialist attention. If so your cardiologists can help you return to a full and useful life. They can counsel you in the risks you face and how to prevent heart disease, as well as treating heart attacks, heart failure, and serious heart rhythm issues.
What conditions does a Cardiologist treat?
A cardiologist or heart doctor is responsible for treating a long list of conditions, many of which are life-threatening.
- Angina (chest pain)
- Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
- Heart murmurs
- Pulmonary and other types of heart failure
- Coronary artery thrombosis / myocardial infarction (heart attack)
- Artery diseases like atherosclerosis, arteritis, and atheroma
- Hole in the heart
- Other congenital heart diseases
- Pregnant women with heart disease
- Palliative end of life care for those with incurable heart disease
What subspecialties are included under Cardiology?
Some cardiologists go on to specialise in stroke medicine, but not many. Most focus on emergency cardiology, often on call, or specialise in:
- Interventional cardiology
- Congenital heart disease in adults
- Paediatric heart disease
- Cardiac imaging
- Electrical device therapy
- Heart failure
- Cardiac transplantation
- Cardiac support devices
- Academic cardiology
- Inherited cardiac conditions
- Interventional valve therapy