Specialist Spotlight; what is a cardiologist?

SMP Healthcare

When you have visited your GP and they suspect you have a medical condition relating to the heart, they may decide it is necessary to refer you to a cardiologist for further investigations or treatment.

A cardiologist is a doctor who can diagnose, assess and treat people suffering diseases and defects of the heart and blood vessels (referred to as the cardiovascular system)

*A cardiologist will manage the treatment of patients with conditions such as those listed below:

  • angina (chest pain caused by narrowing of the coronary arteries)
  • arrhythmias, e.g. atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat)
  • heart murmurs
  • cardiomyopathy (disease of the heart muscle)
  • coronary artery┬áthrombosisor myocardial infarction (heart attack) often associated with high blood pressure (hypertension) and pulmonary oedema (accumulation of fluid)
  • diseases of the arteries (atherosclerosis, arteritis, atheroma)
  • diseases of the aortic andmitral valves
  • hole in the heart and other forms of paediatric or grown-up congenital heart disease

There are different types of cardiologist specialities and although you may be referred to a general cardiologist in the first instance, depending on the condition you have, you may then be referred on to a cardiologist who specialised in that specific field.

**Below you will find reference to just two of the cardiologist areas:

General Cardiologist

A cardiologist treats a wide range of problems that affect the heart and blood vessels. When someone is dealing with a medical issue that involves the heart, a cardiologist is generally the first stop. If the heart issue requires specialized treatment, the cardiologist will refer the patient on to a type of cardiologist who specializes in the necessary procedure.

Interventional Cardiologist

An interventional cardiologist performs non-invasive procedures needed by heart patients. According to Brigham and Women’s Medical Hospital, part of Harvard Medical School, interventional cardiologists treat patients who are dealing with coronary artery disease, heart valve disease, and peripheral vascular disease. The ICs perform procedures such as angioplasty and stenting (inserting a balloon into the artery to increase blood flow, and implanting a mesh balloon in the artery to keep it open), carotid artery stenting, embolic protection (using filters to catch loose pieces of arterial plaque), atherectomy (small blades cut plaque off arterial walls), and mitral valve repair.

*information sourced from https://www.healthcareers.nhs.uk/

** information sourced from http://www.livestrong.com/article/22701-types-heart-doctors/