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Cardiology Specialist Doctor
Heart disease is one of the diseases with the highest death risk in the world. Due to how dangerous it is, this disease is often referred to as the silent killer as it usually does not show clear symptoms in its early stages. This disease would often result in casualties due to sudden heart attacks.
For those of you who have heart disease, it is better that you seek treatment from a cardiologist. A cardiologist does not only specialise in diagnosing and treating diseases or conditions of the heart, but also the blood vessels. This is because the heart is part of the cardiovascular system, which consists of the heart, blood vessels, and many other components within the blood that serve to regulate blood circulation in the body. To become a cardiologist, one should get a degree as a general practitioner first before continuing to further study cardiology.
What a Cardiologist Can Do
As a specialist doctor who deals with the heart and blood vessels, a cardiologist’s duty is to examine, diagnose and execute medical procedures and treatment for various heart diseases. There are numerous ways for cardiologists to diagnose heart diseases depending on the patient’s condition.
Branches of Cardiology
The following are some branches of cardiology:
- Interventional cardiology
- Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant Cardiology
- Congenital Cardiology
- Non-invasive Cardiology
- Nuclear Cardiology
Diseases That Can Be Treated by Cardiologists
A cardiologist has the capability to provide medical treatment for numerous heart disorders such as:
- Angina, a condition where there is a lack of blood supply to the heart, usually characterised by chest pain
- Arrhythmia, disorder of an irregular heartbeat that is either too fast or too slow.
- Atherosclerosis, a heart defect condition caused by a buildup of plaque in blood vessels that interferes with blood circulation.
- Congenital Heart Defects
- Atrial fibrillation, this is a condition where the upper chamber of the heart beats irregularly, causing an abnormal heart rhythm
- Heart Failure
- Pulmonary hypertension
- High Blood Pressure
- Heart Attack
- Coronary artery disease
- Mitral valve prolapse, a condition which occurs due to leakage (regurgitation or insufficiency) or narrowing (stenosis).
- Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA), a disorder that usually occurs with premature babies. The ductus arteriosus is a hole that allows the blood to skip the circulation to the lungs. If the ductus arteriosus is still open, the blood may skip this necessary step of circulation.
- Coronary heart disease, a condition caused by the buildup of plaque that comes from “bad” cholesterol and causes blockage from the arteries to the heart. This does not smoothen the blood supply process to and from the heart.
- Congestive heart failure, a condition when the heart fails to pump blood supply throughout the body.
- Mitral Valve Prolapse
Medical Procedures That Cardiologists Can Perform
Heart disease is a complex disease. Heart disease has many different causes, types, as well as different treatments. There are a number of ways that a cardiologist can examine and provide a diagnosis for a patient.
Generally, a cardiologist will perform a physical examination and ask the patient about his/her medical history. Furthermore, the cardiologist may recommend a series of tests to measure your heart’s function. Below are some common tests for heart functions:
- Electrocardiography (EKG). This test will help the doctor to measure a normal heartbeat and find any structural abnormalities in the heart.
- Echocardiography (Echo). This test is carried out with the help of ultrasound. The objective is to get a clearer examination of the structure and function of the heart
- Cardiac Catheterization. A cardiac catheterization test is performed to see the blood flow through the heart. A short, small tube will be inserted into a vein in the arm or groin area.
- CT scan. This test utilizes a particular machine, which comes in a circular shape and emits X-rays. The patient will lay in it to get a picture of the condition of the heart. This diagnosis includes a CT scan of the heart and a CT scan of coronary calcium.
- Holter monitoring. The Holter Monitor test has a function similar to an EKG test. The difference lies in the tools that are used – the Holter Monitor comes in smaller sizes and offer more flexibility as they can be removed and attached. For 24-72 hours, the Holter Monitor will record heart activity to detect various abnormalities.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Similar to a CT scan, an MRI test is performed to determine the overall condition of the heart. The difference being, MRI uses a device that emits a magnetic field, not X-rays.
- Nuclear Perfusion Scan.
After the cardiologist is able to get a clearer picture of the heart and provide a diagnosis to the patient, the patient will then be prescribed medications.
This is done to improve heart function to have a normal and stable condition. In addition, the treatment also needs to be provided in order to maintain the heart in the long term and to tackle possible future symptoms.
In treating heart disease, a cardiologist may recommend several measures to deal with heart and blood vessel disorders including:
- Cardiac catheterization
- Angioplasty surgery.
- A pacemaker or implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator, that is inserted underneath the chest or abdomen,
Apart from some of the actions mentioned above, patients with heart disease are also prescribed with medicines that suit their needs. The following are commonly-prescribed medicines given by cardiologists:
- Calcium channel blockers: helps dilate narrowed blood vessels.
- Antiplatelet drug (antiaggregant): helps prevent blood clots.
- Anticoagulants: similar to antiplatelet drug, which helps prevent blood clots
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs): helps lower blood pressure due to slow angiotensin production process
- ACE Inhibitors: similar to angiotensin II blockers.
- Beta-blocker: helps lower the heart rate to become stable, which often occurs due to high adrenaline in the body.
- Cholesterol medicine: reduces levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) which is harmful to the heart and increase levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL) in the body.
Patients suffering from heart disease are advised to reduce stress, live an active lifestyle, and implement a healthy diet regime. Additionally, it is also strongly recommended not to engage in any excessive exercise or extreme sports as it may cause heart problems.
Even though a patient with heart disease can be treated and following-treatment, can experience a stable heart condition, it is advisable for the patient to continue to consult and undergo post-treatment heart or cardiac examinations. It is important as this can help determine the ability of the heart to function long-term. Some of the post-treatment tests recommended are:
Even though the heart condition has improved, an examination of the heart using ultrasound or echocardiography needs to be performed to monitor the heart damage and its impact on the heart function.
- CT scan or MRI
When someone suffers from a heart attack, this examination procedure can be performed to check for any heart disorders and see the extent of the damage.
- EKG treadmill
EKG treadmill is required to assess the heart and blood vessels’ responses when doing activities. This test can be done a few days or weeks after the patient has a heart attack
When To See A Cardiologist
Even if you do not have heart disease, you are recommended to do regular check ups, particularly if you have a family history of heart disease. Cardiologists will generally ask questions regarding your family’s health history and then perform a physical examination. The same suggestion also applies to those of you who are active smokers or are actively doing certain sports. As a preventive measure, you are recommended to check your heart condition.
For those of you who experience the following symptoms or conditions, you are strongly advised to make an appointment with a cardiologist.
- Extreme chest pain or discomfort
- Excessive blood cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Breathlessness with exertion or at rest
- Pounding heartbeat
When detected early, heart disease becomes easier to treat. Talk to your cardiologist about your concerns regarding your heart health so that you can get a proper diagnosis. Write down all your concerns, starting from when you first feel it, which area you feel pain, and how long you feel the pain.
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