A cardiologist is a medical practitioner who has a specialization in diagnosing and treating diseases and conditions of the heart and blood vessels. Finding the right cardiologist is important for your heart health. Learn about the qualities to look for and the questions to ask when choosing a doctor, and get some tips for making an informed decision.
What is Cardiology?
Cardiology is a branch of medicine that deals with diagnosing and treating disorders of the heart and blood vessels. It involves the study of the structure, function, and diseases of the heart and its associated vessels, as well as the diagnosis and treatment of these conditions.
What is Heart Disease?
Heart disease is any disorder or disease affecting the heart. It is one of the leading causes of death in the United States and many other countries. Common types of heart disease include arrhythmias, coronary artery disease (CAD), congestive heart failure (CHF), and congenital heart defects. Risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, alcoholism, smoking, and lack of physical activity. Treatment for heart disease may include lifestyle changes, medications, or surgery.
Who is a Cardiologist?
A cardiologist is a medical practitioner who has a specialization in diagnosing and treating diseases and conditions of the heart and blood vessels. This includes diseases of the arteries, veins, and valves, as well as congenital heart defects, coronary artery disease, heart failure, hypertension, and other cardiac conditions. Cardiologists typically perform tests such as echocardiograms, electrocardiograms, and cardiac catheterizations and may also prescribe medications, recommend lifestyle changes, and provide advice to help prevent further heart problems.
When would I need a Cardiologist?
You may need to see a cardiologist if you have any concerns about your heart; or symptoms, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, changes in heart rate or rhythm, palpitations, dizziness, or fatigue. You may also need to see a cardiologist if you have been diagnosed with a heart condition or have a family history of heart disease. Additionally, your doctor may recommend seeing a cardiologist if you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes.
What diseases do Cardiologists treat?
Heart diseases that a cardiologist can help with include:
- High blood pressure, or hypertension
- Coronary Artery Disease– is a type of heart disease that occurs when the arteries that supply blood to the heart become narrowed or blocked.
- Congenital Heart Defects– are birth defects that occur when the heart does not develop properly during pregnancy. They are the most common birth defect, affecting about 1 in 100 babies.
- Heart Failure– is a condition in which the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. Various factors, including coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes, can cause it.
- Arrhythmia– is a term used to describe an abnormal or irregular heartbeat. Symptoms may include palpitations, dizziness, and chest pain.
- Valvular Diseases– are conditions that affect the valves in the heart, which control blood flow through the heart’s chambers. Common forms include aortic stenosis, mitral regurgitation, and mitral valve prolapse.
- Pericarditis- s a condition characterized by inflammation of the pericardium, which is the thin sac that surrounds the heart. It can be caused by a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection, as well as certain medications or other medical conditions.
- Cardiomyopathy– a group of diseases that affect the heart muscle. It is a progressive disorder of the heart muscle, which causes the heart to become weak and unable to pump blood efficiently.
- Atherosclerosis- is a chronic, progressive disease of the arteries characterized by the buildup of plaque on the inner arterial walls. Plaque is made up of cholesterol, fat, calcium, and other substances found in the blood.
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- How serious is Valvular Heart Disease? Let us understand
- Growing concerns of Sudden Cardiac Arrest in India
- Heart Failure: a Chronic and Life-threatening Condition
- How do artery blockages lead to Heart Attacks?
- Angina: a feeling of squeezing and chest pain
- Venous blood clots
- Varicose Veins
- Valve Disease
- Raynaud’s Phenomenon
- Pulmonary Stenosis
- Pulmonary Hypertension- is caused by an increase in blood pressure within the pulmonary arteries, which are the blood vessels that carry blood from the right side of the heart to the lungs.
- Atherosclerosis- is a condition in which fatty deposits and calcium build up in the walls of the arteries, causing them to narrow.
- Atrial fibrillation is an arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat affecting the heart’s upper chambers (atria). AFib can cause symptoms such as rapid and irregular heartbeat, chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, and fatigue.
- Congestive Heart Disease- is a group of conditions that affects the heart’s ability to pump blood effectively. It occurs when the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs.
- High blood cholesterol and triglycerides- can be caused by several factors, including an unhealthy diet high in trans fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol; physical inactivity; obesity; smoking; and a family history of high cholesterol.
- Ventricular tachycardia- is a medical condition characterized by an abnormally fast heart rate, usually over 100 beats per minute. It is a type of arrhythmia or irregular heart rhythm.
What tests does a Cardiologist use to diagnose heart disease?
A cardiologist may order a variety of tests to diagnose and monitor heart conditions, including: –
- Electrocardiogram (EKG)– An electrocardiogram is a test that records the heart’s electrical activity. Read about how EKG is performed.
- Echocardiogram (ECG)– An echocardiogram is a test that uses sound waves to create a detailed image of the heart. The test helps doctors diagnose and monitor heart disease, heart valve disease, and Structural Heart Disease. Read about Echocardiogram
- Cardiac catheterization– During the procedure, a thin, flexible tube called a catheter is inserted into a vein or artery in the arm or leg and then threaded through the body until it reaches the heart. Once in place, the catheter can measure the pressure inside the heart’s chambers, take images of the heart’s structure, and inject dye into the heart’s vessels to check for blockages.
- Chest X-ray– A chest X-ray is a medical imaging test that uses X-rays to create pictures of the structures inside the chest, including the lungs, heart, blood vessels, and other organs.
- Cardiac MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)– Cardiac MRI is a non-invasive imaging technique used to assess the structure and function of the heart. Cardiac MRI can identify and diagnose heart conditions, such as coronary artery disease, heart valve disorders, and congenital heart defects.
- Cardiac CT (computed tomography)– Cardiac CT is a medical imaging technique that uses specialized x-ray equipment and computer technology to create detailed pictures of the heart and its blood vessels. It can also detect abnormalities in the heart valves, evaluate the heart muscle, and diagnose other heart conditions.
Read other articles
- Carotid Ultrasound for diagnosing narrowing of the carotid arteries
- Abdominal Aortic Ultrasound: How is it performed?
- How does Implantable Loop Recorder monitor heart rhythm?
- Doppler Ultrasound: for detecting abnormal blood flow
- Tilt table test: Why is this test performed?
- How Cardiac MRI helps to diagnose heart problems
- Transesophageal Echocardiography
- Stress Echocardiography or stress echo, or stress test
- Cardiac PET Scan: Positron Emission Tomography
- Nuclear Ventriculography: imaging technique for the Heart Chambers
- Coronary angiogram– A coronary angiogram uses a contrast dye to take pictures of the arteries. The dye allows the arteries to be seen on x-ray images. The images help the doctor identify any narrowing or blockage in the arteries.
- Stress tests– A heart stress test (also known as an exercise stress test) is a cardiological test that measures the heart’s ability to respond to external stress in a controlled clinical environment. The test is usually performed on a treadmill or a stationary bike.
- Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE)– In a Transesophageal echocardiogram, an ultrasound probe is inserted into the patient’s esophagus. This probe produces sound waves that bounce off the structures of the heart and return to the probe, creating an image of the heart and surrounding structures.
- Holter monitor– A Holter monitor is a small, battery-operated device that continuously records the electrical activity of a person’s heart. It is used to diagnose various cardiac conditions, such as arrhythmias, and to monitor the effectiveness of treatments.
- Event monitor– A heart event monitor is a device that records a patient’s heart activity (electrocardiogram) over some time. The monitor consists of adhesive electrodes that are placed on your chest, and it records the electrical signals that are generated by your heart. It is used to detect and diagnose arrhythmias or abnormal heartbeats.
- Implantable event recorder/implantable loop recorder– An implantable event recorder is a small device placed under your skin in your chest or abdomen. It monitors your heart rhythm and records it on a small memory chip. Your doctor can retrieve the recorded data from the device and use it to diagnose and treat any problems with your heart.
Types of Cardiologists
Cardiologists are medical doctors who specialize in diagnosing, treating, and preventing diseases that affect the heart and blood vessels. Types of cardiologists include:
- Interventional Cardiologist: A doctor who performs minimally invasive procedures such as angioplasty, stenting, and balloon valvuloplasty.
- Electrophysiologist: A doctor specializing in diagnosing and treating heart rhythm disorders such as atrial fibrillation, bradycardia, and tachycardia.
- Clinical Cardiologist: A doctor specializing in diagnosing and treating coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, and valvular heart disease.
- Pediatric Cardiologist: A doctor specializing in diagnosing and treating children’s congenital and acquired heart conditions.
- Preventive Cardiologist: A doctor specializing in preventive care and risk factor management.
- Transplant Cardiologist: A doctor specializing in diagnosing and treating heart failure and other cardiac conditions requiring a heart transplant.
Best Cardiologists in India
- Dr. Naresh Trehan, Medanta The Medicity, Gurgaon- a world-renowned cardiovascular and cardiothoracic surgeon
- Dr. Ashok Seth– Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, New Delhi- an Indian interventional cardiologist credited with the performance of over 50,000 angiograms and 20,000 angioplasties
- Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty– Chairman and Senior Consultant Cardiac Surgeon. Narayana Hrudayalaya Limited. An active member of the European Association for Cardio-Thoracic Surgery.
- Dr. Vivek Jawali -Chairman of Cardiovascular & Thoracic Surgery Council, Fortis Healthcare Ltd, Bangalore. A pioneer of minimally invasive cardiac surgery in India. Performed more than 30,000 Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgeries.
- Dr. Murugu Sundara Pandiyan– cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon at Gleneagles Global Hospitals, Chennai- performed 3500+ adult, pediatric, thoracic, and aortic surgeries.
- Dr. Tarlochan Singh Kler– Paediatric Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgeon at Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram. He performed more than 25,000 coronary, renal, carotid & peripheral angioplasties.
- Dr. Sandeep Attawar– Founder of the Thoracic organ transplant Program at KIMS Institute of Heart, Secunderabad. Performed close to 217 thoracic organ transplants (including 134 Double lung transplants)
- Dr. Ajay Kaul- Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgeon, heart transplant expert at Fortis Hospital, Noida. Performed over 5000 Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgical procedures.
- Dr. Sudhanshu Bhattacharyya- Cardiothoracic Surgeon at Reliance hospital Mumbai. Dr. Bhattacharya has invented, designed, and patented a few surgical instruments, like, Atrial Retractor for Mitral Valve Replacement and Internal Mammary Artery Retractor for taking down bilateral Internal Mammary Arteries.
- Dr. Yugal Kishore Mishra– Chief Cardio Vascular Surgeon at Manipal Hospital, Dwarka, Delhi. Performed over 14,000 open heart surgery and 500 robotic surgeries.
- Dr. Robert Coelho– Paediatric Cardiac Surgeon at MIOT International, Chennai
- Sherman, Shantella. “Congestive Heart Failure Hits Young.” The Charlotte Post, vol. 40, no. 25, Charlotte Post Publishing Co., 26 Feb. 2015, p. 1B.