Cardiology

cardioWhat does Cardiologist Do?

Cardiologists are specialists dealing with disorders of the heart. The field includes diagnosis and treatment of congenital heart defects, coronary artery disease, heart failure, valvular heart disease and electrophysiology.

Cardiologists should not be confused with cardiac, cardiothoracic or cardiovascular surgeons, who perform cardiac surgery via open operative procedures on the heart and great vessels.

When To See a Cardiologist

If you have a family history of heart disease, meaning one or more immediate family members have been diagnosed with heart disease or has high blood pressure or cholesterol, you could be at higher risk for heart disease.

Cardiologist consultations are typically recommended by a patient’s primary care physician in response to either heightened risk factors for cardiovascular disease or symptoms that indicate it may already be present. Issues your primary care doctor may recommend a cardiologist consultation to evaluate your risk for a serious heart or vascular disease include:

  • Angina; Chest pain or discomfort stemming from narrowed arteries providing blood to the heart. Angina usually causes uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the center of the chest. You may also feel the discomfort in your neck, jaw, shoulder, back or arm.
  • Arrhythmia, rhythm disturbances of the heart are called arrhythmias; may unclude palpitations or missed heartbeats.
  • Shortness of breath, which can indicate congestive heart failure or valve problems
  • A cardiac event, such as a heart attack, which requires ongoing cardiology monitoring after the emergency passes

 

What happens during the Cardiology consultation?

Visiting a cardiologist for the first time might seem intimidating, but detecting a problem and taking early steps to treat it greatly increases your chances of living a longer, healthier life. By making a few simple preparations beforehand, you can take full advantage of your visit.

What to Expect

Your first cardiologist appointment will usually last up to an hour. A nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant might conduct the first visit. You will be asked both general health questions and some more specific questions related to the reason for your visit. A physical examination follows, and if necessary the doctor might arrange for further testing. The cardiologist might prescribe medication or provide your primary care provider with recommendations. In other situations, you may be admitted to a hospital or referred to a cardiovascular surgeon or other specialist.

What to Bring

Some information is absolutely essential for any cardiologist appointment, and you should be prepared to take notes. It’s helpful to have everything well-organized in a folder so that your doctor can make the most accurate assessment possible. Key information to have on hand includes:

  • A list of your medicines, or the medications themselves. Your pharmacy or primary health care provider can put together this information if you don’t have it. You may even want to throw them in a seal-able bag and bring them along. It is important to include a list any vitamins and supplements you are taking. Make sure to include any medications that you were prescribed within the past year, even if you no longer take them.
  • Family medical history. Your family history is filled with important clues, so be thorough, especially including what you might know about instances of high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure among your close relatives.
  • Your own medical history. List your surgeries, along with medical procedures, including diagnostic work-ups such as MRIs and lab reports.
  • A list of all your health care providers. This should include any that you are currently seeing or have visited in the last two years. Dentists, chiropractors, and natural-healing practitioners are all worth mentioning, among others.
  • Your own questions. If you have some idea why you’re seeing a cardiologist, do some research to learn about it. Use sites such as the American Heart Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institutes of Health, and write down questions about anything that is unclear to you.

Your cardiologist is an important member of your care team — a team that centers around you and your health. Take full advantage of the time, develop a good personal connection, and remember that no matter how small the detail, there’s nothing too minor to bring up at your appointment. You never know what information could lead to the right diagnosis and treatment.

Tests your Cardiologist may recommend

Stress Test

• Your doctor will decide if it’s appropriate for you to have a stress test. Stress tests are done if there’s a change in symptoms, and when there might be a problem with the heart.
• One reason for this test is if you have risk factors for heart disease or if other tests suggest blockages of the artery to the heart.
• Another reason is if there are known blockages in the artery. A stress test can help determine the severity of those blockages, so your doctor can recommend the best treatment options.

Holter Monitor

A Holter monitor measures and records your heart’s activity (ECG) over a 24 to 48 hour period (sometimes longer depending on need).  The Holter device monitors your ECG as you go about your daily activities are called ambulatory electrocardiograms. Your cardiologist will analyze the data and provide feedback

Service provided by:

Related Services: