Cardiology is the study and treatment of disorders of the heart and the blood vessels. A person with heart disease or cardiovascular disease may be referred to a cardiologist. A cardiologist specializes in diagnosing and treating diseases of the cardiovascular system. The cardiologist will carry out tests, and they may perform some procedures, such as heart catheterizations, angioplasty, or inserting a pacemaker.
Heart disease relates specifically to the heart, while cardiovascular disease affects the heart, the blood vessels, or both.
When would I need a cardiologist?
If a person has symptoms of a heart condition, their physician may refer them to a cardiologist. Symptoms that can indicate a heart problem include:
- shortness of breath
- chest pains
- changes in heart rate or rhythm
- high blood pressure
They often treat patients who have had a heart attack, heart failure, or other heart problems. They help make decisions about heart surgery, heart catheterization, and angioplasty and stenting.
Heart diseases that a cardiologist can help with include:
- atrial fibrillation
- congenital heart disease
- coronary heart disease
- congestive heart disease
- high blood cholesterol and triglycerides
- ventricular tachycardia
- high blood pressure, or hypertension
A person may need to see a cardiologist even without symptoms, if they have a family history of heart disease or high cholesterol, if they are or have been a smoker, if they have diabetes, or if they are starting a new exercise program