Cardiology is a branch of medicine which studies, diagnoses, and treats conditions of the heart and parts of the circulatory system. Doctors specialising in cardiology are called cardiologists. Cardiologists undergo extensive training, and are highly skilled physicians.
In order to diagnose cardiac conditions, a cardiologist may check a patient’s blood pressure or weight, and utilise tests such as an ECG (echocardiogram), exercise test, x-rays, or blood tests.
Cardiologists often work as consultants to other doctors. They are not surgeons, and, as such, do not carry out operations (these are handled by cardio-thoracic surgeons, who work closely with the cardiologist).
What conditions does a cardiologist treat?
Cardiologists specialise in diagnosing and treating various types of heart disease and other conditions affecting the heart and its connecting blood vessels. Some of the conditions a cardiologist typically treats include:
Which subspecialties are included under cardiology?
The current trend in cardiology is moving towards a team-based approach, with each cardiologist having a subspecialty, rather than one general cardiologist for all aspects of the field. Sub-specialty interests include:
Heart failure, including heart transplants and support devices
Congenital heart disease in adults
Electrical device therapy
When should you see a cardiologist?
You may be referred to a cardiologist by your GP if they suspect you have a heart condition. You should always consult a doctor if you are experiencing symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or dizziness. Heart murmurs may also warrant the attention of a cardiologist.
A cardiologist will be involved in your treatment if you suffer a heart attack or heart failure. With any serious heart issue, or treatments such as cardiac catheterisation or heart surgery, the skills and expertise of a cardiologist is required.