What is a Cardiologist
A local cardiologist is a medical doctor who specializes in treating cardiovascular diseases of the heart and blood vessels. A cardiologist may treat conditions such as heart failure, heart attacks, high blood pressure, and atrial fibrillation. Ablation: Cardiac ablation is a procedure that works by scarring or destroying tissue in your heart that triggers or sustains an abnormal heart rhythm. It is also known as catheter ablation or radiofrequency ablation, and is a surgical procedure that uses radiofrequency energy to correct arrhythmias.
Atrial fibrillation: Also called an arrhythmia, atrial fibrillation is an irregular heartbeat. A normal heart contracts and relaxes to a regular beat. However, if you have atrial fibrillation, the atria (upper chambers) beat out of sync with the ventricles (lower chambers). Atrial fibrillation can increase your risk of heart failure, stroke, blood clots and other heart conditions. Atrial fibrillation isn’t usually life threatening, but it is a serious medical condition that requires treatment.
COPD: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is commonly associated with the narrowing of the breathing tubes within the lungs and damage to the gas exchange units called alveoli. While the exact cause of COPD is unknown, there seems to be a complex relationship between genetics and environmental factors such as smoking, poor nutrition, pollution, and chronic chest infections.
Genetic cardiac conditions: There are a number of genetic cardiac conditions (also called inherited cardiac conditions) that can affect people of all ages, from cardiomyopathy to congenital heart disease.
Heart disease: Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in North America. Heart disease refers to many conditions that affect the heart, including coronary artery disease, heart attack, arrhythmias, and congenital heart defects.
Heart failure: Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a common condition that affects millions of North Americans each year. It occurs when there is a buildup of fluid around the heart. This buildup of fluid interferes with the efficiency of the heart muscle to pump blood throughout the body.
Palpitations and SVT: Heart palpitations are heartbeats that become more noticeable to a person. They may be a fluttering, pounding, or irregular beating of the heart. Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) is defined as an abnormally fast heartbeat.
Stroke: A stroke is caused by an interruption or reduction of the blood supply to part of the brain. During a stroke, the brain tissue is deprived of oxygen and nutrients. Your local cardiologist may use something called a CHADS score to assess your risk of stroke. CHADS stands for: C for congestive heart failure, H for high blood pressure, A for over age 65, D for diabetes, and S for a previous stroke.
If a local cardiologist suspects that a patient has cardiovascular disease, he or she will use cardiac diagnostic tools to make a diagnosis. Tools to diagnose heart diseases such as atrial fibrillation or coronary heart disease may include an electrocardiogram (ECG), echocardiogram, stress test, positron emission tomography (PET) scan, and more.
If you’re diagnosed with a heart condition by a local cardiologist, there are a variety of treatments and surgeries available. If a patient needs heart surgery, he or she will be referred to a cardiothoracic surgeon. One common treatment is heart valve surgery to repair or replace a valve in the heart that is not working properly because of valvular heart disease. Heart valve surgery is open-heart surgery that is done through the breastbone and into the chest.
Another common cardiovascular surgery is a coronary angioplasty or a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). This may be done to open a narrowed artery and implant a stent. Other patients will benefit from a pacemaker, which is a small device that is placed in the chest or abdomen to help control abnormal heart rhythms. A pacemaker will need to be replaced every 5 to 10 years. Many of today’s pacemakers can also monitor things like breathing and blood temperature; some can adjust your heart rate to changes during activity.
Whether a patient needs medication, surgery, or another treatment for a cardiovascular condition, a local cardiologist can help. In addition to cardiovascular intervention from a local cardiologist, a patient needs to make healthy lifestyle changes. High cholesterol, smoking, obesity and lack of physical activity are all risk factors for heart disease. Lifestyle changes may include quitting smoking and drinking, eating a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, reducing sodium, and getting regular exercise.
If you have questions about how a cardiologist might help you, talk to your local health care provider.
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