A cardiologist is a physician who focuses on illness affecting the heart and the blood vessels. Someone who experiences heart problems or cardiovascular disease may be referred to a cardiologist. It is vital for those who have a family history of cardiovascular issues, such as high blood pressure, to get screenings by a cardiologist. Throughout their careers, cardiologists continue to develop their knowledge.
What Do Cardiologists Treat?
A cardiologist is different from a cardiac surgeon – a doctor who opens the chest and performs surgery on the heart. Instead, cardiologists focus on recognizing, treating, and managing the conditions that affect the heart. Patients who have signs of a heart condition see them regularly.
Some of the most common conditions cardiologists treat include:
Hypertension or high blood pressure refers to an unhealthy level of force exerted by the blood against the walls of the blood vessels. Millions of American adults suffer from hypertension. It can be managed over time, but uncontrolled hypertension may lead to heart disease.
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that is contained in cells throughout the body. It can be derived from many animal-based foods. Although cholesterol is generally helpful, it can form a sticky plaque that makes the heart and blood vessels less efficient.
Heart disease is a general term for disorder of the blood vessels of the heart. These disorders cause the vessels to become narrowed or blocked, negatively influencing healthy blood flow. Its most common form is coronary heart disease, in which the coronary artery is affected.
Arrhythmia is an irregular heartbeat. The patient’s heartbeat may be too fast, too slow, or lack the characteristic pattern of a healthy heart. It is very common and is caused by a failure of the electrical impulses in the heart to work properly. This can make other cardiac issues more likely.
Atherosclerosis is a plaque buildup within the wall of an artery. This plaque consists of fat and cholesterol plus other substances. It is associated with high blood cholesterol. If not treated, then atherosclerosis can elevate the risk of heart attack and stroke.
This is only a small selection of diseases and disorders cardiologists can treat.
Reasons to Visit a Cardiologist
It is a good idea to visit a cardiologist if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Pains in the chest
- Changes in heart rate
Many cardiovascular disorders have few or no symptoms in early stages. This is particularly true of high blood pressure. As a result, it’s essential to proactively seek out screening with a cardiologist if you notice symptoms or if you have a family history of cardiovascular illness.
If a cardiovascular problem is suspected, the doctor may order a number of diagnostic tests. A CT scan, which uses x-rays to visualize areas of the body, is one option. Another option is an MRI, which utilizes radio signals for imaging. This procedure is generally more precise when evaluating soft organs.
“Stress tests” and other methods can be used to measure blood flow under various conditions.
Most cardiovascular conditions cannot be cured. That said, symptoms can be managed long-term and progress of the condition can be arrested. A combination of medication and lifestyle interventions is the most common way to improve cardiovascular health.
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