Cardiology is an exciting science that is centered around protecting patients’ heart health. Over the past several years, there have been a number of advances in cardiology which will help patients live longer, healthier lives. Cardiologists work together with pulmonologists, internists, and surgeons to help patients overcome their health problems.
Alfred Sparman, an experienced interventional cardiologist, explores the world of cardiology and explains how these doctors work to support their patients’ heart health.
In addition to four years of medical school, cardiologists are trained in internal medicine for three years. After their internal medicine residency, cardiologists undergo three to four more years of training. This means that new cardiologists have received ten years of training or more.
When to See a Cardiologist
People are generally referred to cardiologists by their primary health care provider. Symptoms like dizzy spells, chest pain, and shortness of breath can signal to the primary health care provider that the services of a cardiologist may be needed. Cardiologists also see patients with heart murmurs or troubling ECG readings.
The cardiologist will perform a full work-up with the patient, combining a basic physical exam with special diagnostic tests. ECG tests are often performed, along with heart ultrasounds and X-rays. These tests can help the cardiologist determine what has gone wrong in the heart and offer ways for the cardiologist to ensure ongoing heart health.
Cardiologists are especially concerned with high blood pressure, heart pain, heart failure, and hardening of the arteries. Cardiologists can diagnose blockages in the veins and arteries which prevent the heart from functioning at its best.
Procedures Performed by Cardiologists
While most cardiologists are not surgeons, they can perform some procedures including cardiac catheterization and balloon angioplasty. They work closely with heart surgeons to make sure that their patients have the best possible care.
Cardiologists also perform exercise tests, judging how a patient’s heart works during vigorous activity. These tests can help patients understand that they need to work out more frequently in order to preserve their heart health. They also examine the effects of stress on the heart.
Conditions Treated by Cardiologists
Abnormal Heart Rhythms
Heart rhythm disorders like atrial fibrillation or aFib can be extremely serious, claims Dr. Alfred Sparman. Cardiologists often work with surgeons to place pacemakers in the heart to make the rhythm regular.
Coronary Artery Disease
Also known as atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries, coronary artery disease happens when deposits of fat and cholesterol block the blood vessels leading to the heart. Cardiologists often refer patients to surgeons to have bypass operations and other types of procedures that will restore the patient’s heart health.
Heart failure should not be confused with a heart attack. When patients have heart failure, their hearts are not beating efficiently and clearing all of the blood from the chambers with each beat. This leads to edema or a buildup of salt and water that causes swelling.
Heart Valve Disease
Problems with the heart valves can cause improper movement of blood through the heart. Examples of these conditions include mitral valve prolapse, aortic stenosis, and mitral valve insufficiency. Aortic stenosis involves the narrowing of the aortic valve, preventing sufficient blood flow from the heart to the body. Mitral valve insufficiency happens when the mitral valve cannot close properly. Blood then leaks backward from the heart, leading to a backup of fluid in the lungs.
Congenital Heart Disease
Congenital heart disease involves birth defects. It is not known how this condition develops. In some cases, the problem is not noted until adulthood. This problem could possibly be caused by heredity, alcohol use by the mother, and viral infections.
Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle. Sometimes, cardiomyopathy is known as an enlarged heart. Hearts with cardiomyopathy are unusually large and thick. They are stiffened and cannot effectively pump blood. Cardiomyopathy can lead to heart rhythm disorders and heart failure.
Trust Your Cardiologist
When patients see a cardiologist, they can be assured that they are receiving the care that can help them resume their fulfilling, productive lives. Cardiologists like Alfred Sparman are ready to provide the best medical care to their patients while supporting their heart health.