Medicine is specialized. One medical specialist is the cardiologist.
Patients: The word cardiologist
means "one who studies the heart."
Physicians and surgeons serve a fundamental role in our society
and have an effect upon all our lives. They diagnose illnesses
and prescribe and administer treatment for people suffering from
injury or disease. Physicians examine patients, obtain medical
histories, and order, perform, and interpret diagnostic tests.
They counsel patients on diet, hygiene, and preventive healthcare.
Physicians work in one or more of several specialties, including,
but not limited to, anesthesiology, family and general medicine,
general internal medicine, general pediatrics, obstetrics and
gynecology, psychiatry, and surgery. A number of other medical
specialists, including allergists, cardiologists, dermatologists,
emergency physicians, gastroenterologists, pathologists, and radiologists,
also work in clinics, hospitals, and private offices.
Cardiologists, Medical Specialists and Your Health Care
Cardiology, or the discipline of medicine that specializes in
heart disease, is a complex and sophisticated field. Three types
of cardiologist medical specialists care for your heart.
- A cardiologist is a medical specialist in finding, treating,
and preventing diseases of the heart and blood vessels in adults.
- A pediatric cardiologist is a medical specialist in in finding,
treating, and preventing heart and blood vessel disease in infants,
children, and teenagers. In some cases, the pediatric cardiologist
begins diagnosis and treatment in the fetus and continues into
- A cardiac surgeon is a medical specialist with special training
and skills to perform delicate operations on the heart, blood
vessels, and lungs.
The Training of Cardiologists: Medical Specialists Studying
After four years of medical school, cardiologists spend from
six to eight more years in specialized training. A cardiologist
receives three years of training in internal medicine and three
or more years in specialized cardiology training. A pediatric
cardiologist receives three years of training in pediatrics, and
three or more years in specialized pediatric cardiology training.
A cardiac surgeon must complete five years of training in general
surgery before starting a two-or three-year cardiothoracic training
program. Some cardiac surgeons have additional training to perform
pediatric or transplant surgery.
At each stage of their training, cardiac medical specialists
must pass rigorous exams that test their knowledge and judgment,
as well as their ability to provide superior care.
Cardiologists, pediatric cardiologists, and cardiac surgeons
must first become board-certified in their primary specialty (internal
medicine, pediatrics, and surgery respectively), and then certified
in their subspecialty (cardiology, pediatric cardiology, and cardiothoracic
Referral to Cardiologists: Medical Specialists You Can Go
Any time you have a significant heart or related condition, you
may require the attention of a cardiologist. Symptoms like shortness
of breath, chest pains, or dizzy spells often require special
testing. Heart murmurs or ECG changes are best evaluated by a
cardiologist. Most importantly, cardiologists treat heart attacks,
heart failure, and serious heart rhythm disturbances. Their skills
and training are required for decisions about heart catheterization,
balloon angioplasty, heart surgery, and other procedures.
Diagnostic tests which may be necessary, and which your cardiologist
Your cardiologist will review your medical history and perform
a physical examination which may include checking your blood pressure,
weight, heart, lungs, and blood vessels. While some problems may
be diagnosed from this examination, your cardiologist may order
an ECG, X-ray, or blood tests. In addition, an ambulatory ECG,
echocardiogram, exercise test, heart catheterization and/or nuclear
imaging may be required.
The Cardiologist: A Medical Specialist working with your Primary
The cardiologist usually serves as a consultant to other doctors,
although many provide general medical care for their patients.
Your primary care physician may recommend a cardiologist or you
may choose one yourself. As your cardiac care proceeds, your cardiologist
will guide your care and plan tests and treatment with the doctors
and nurses who are looking after you.