Understanding the different types of cardiologists
Health issues involving the heart can be particularly distressing to patients. For chest pain and trouble breathing, many patients choose to see a cardiologist that can diagnose and assess heart conditions. Within the medical field, there are various types of cardiologists that can help with heart health.
What does a cardiologist do?
A cardiologist specializes in the heart and blood vessels to assess potentially life-threatening health conditions. By helping create a treatment plan, cardiologists can help a patient manage cardiovascular problems. Typically a cardiologist will work in tandem with the patient’s primary care physician.
There are a variety of specialties in cardiology. Invasive, non-invasive and interventional cardiology are three popular types. A cardiologist can use one approach or a combination to best fit the needs of the patient.
5 types of cardiologists
All cardiologists must complete four years of medical school, three years of residency, and a cardiology fellowship. To become a specialist in the field, one or two additional years of training are required.
An electrophysiologist is trained to detect, diagnose, and treat abnormal heart rhythms. By using specific devices designed to test for irregular heart beats, these particular cardiologists can understand whether a patient has tachycardia, bradycardia, atrial fibrillation or other arrhythmias.
People usually see an electrophysiologist if they plan to have a cardiac ablation procedure. If a man or woman experiences a sudden loss of consciousness, has a risk of sudden cardiac death or can potentially benefit from a pacemaker, these are other critical reasons to see an electrophysiologist.
An electrophysiology study is a test that can assess the electrical system of the heart. By measuring electrical activity, this type of cardiologist can help diagnose irregular patterns that may need treatment.
2.) Interventional cardiologists
An interventional cardiologist can treat coronary artery disease, valve disease and other heart conditions by using invasive and imaging techniques. Procedures such as cardiac catheterization and coronary angioplasty can be conducted by interventional cardiologists to help widen a narrowed artery.
Patients who experience changes in their EKG, have unstable angina, or heart valve disease usually see this type of cardiologist for treatment. Symptoms of these heart conditions can include dizziness, heart palpitations, chest pain, or shortness of breath.
A variety of tests can be done to diagnose heart conditions. A cardiac enzyme test can help the cardiologist detect potential heart damage. This type of cardiologist may also use an echocardiogram to assess the function and heart structure. Chest X-rays, measuring a complete blood count, and thyroid testing is also commonly performed.
A cardio-oncologist can work with cancer survivors or those actively pursuing heart treatment. These kinds of cardiologists have in-depth knowledge about cardiac side effects stemming from chemotherapy and radiation.
Patients who have developed cardiovascular conditions as a result of cancer treatment, need these types of cardiologists so help treat secondary issues. These issues can include premature coronary artery disease, pericardial disease, cardiac rhythm disturbances or valvular problems. A cardio-oncologist does not directly treat cancer, but can treat other potentially life-threatening conditions.
Tests and heart monitoring tools can be used to help a patient suffering from these cardiac issues. Some tests include using cardiac magnetic resonance imaging. Other heart monitoring tools include using an endomyocardial biopsy, novel biomarkers, functional exercise testing, 3-D echocardiography and strain technology, as well as a CT assessment of heart artery calcium.
4.) Cardiothoracic surgeons
A cardiothoracic surgeon can treat coronary artery disease, leaky heart valves, atrial fibrillation, and other heart conditions. This type of cardiologist can perform a variety of surgeries including, but not limited to, general thoracic surgery, heart and lung transplant surgery, congenital cardiac surgery, and adult cardiac surgery. They can also help manage treatment in an out-patient setting.
By evaluating the patient’s condition, a cardiothoracic surgeon can order specific tests to be conducted. These tests can include imaging tests to examine the heart, arteries, and lungs. Other tests can include an EKG or cardiac catheterization.
These types of cardiologists generally work closely with a patient’s primary doctor for on-going management and treatment. A cardiothoracic surgeon may also work closely with a patient’s pulmonologist or other specialists throughout treatment. A primary care physician will often recommend this specific type of cardiologist for certain forms of heart disease or chest surgery.
5.) Preventive cardiologists
A preventive cardiologist can lower a patient’s risk for developing certain cardiovascular diseases. For individuals with a family history of heart conditions, seeing a preventive cardiologist can be life-saving. Risk factors for future heart issues can include high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, smoking, and lifestyle choices. Men are typically at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease.
A preventive cardiologist can use image testing to examine the heart and blood vessels. Advanced cardiac imaging includes coronary artery calcium scoring or a CT angiography test. Other tests that can be used include advanced blood tests and lipoprotein testing. A preventive treatment plan can be created based on the patient’s information.
A personalized treatment may include altering a patient’s diet. Certain nutrition adjustments may be made depending on the individual. Medication may be changed or added depending on the results of testing. Stress reduction tools are also often discussed as part of on-going treatment.
When to visit a cardiologist
A cardiologist is a physician that can help during critical life moments. If an individual experiences chest pain or heart-related conditions, these physicians are trained to both diagnose and treat the problem.
Certain individuals have a higher risk of heart disease than others. Those with a family history involving heart conditions are generally at higher risk to develop the same problems. Men and individuals over 55 are more likely to suffer from a heart attack or stroke. Those that smoke tobacco or have a poor diet may also develop cardiac issues.
Common reasons to schedule an appointment with a cardiologist include shortness of breath, heart palpitations, and dizziness. Abnormal heart rhythms, coronary artery disease, and diabetes can all be treated with the right cardiologist.
Different cardiologists are necessary for specific heart-related conditions. By performing specialized tests, an accurate diagnosis can be made. Depending on the type of cardiologist, treatment can vary. When understanding which cardiologist will help the most, asking a primary care physician is often recommended.