At UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute, our cardiologists are among the most respected in the region, specializing in prevention, diagnosis and advanced treatment of cardiac disease.
What Is a Cardiovascular Disease Doctor?
A cardiovascular disease doctor or a cardiologist is a licensed physician specialized in diagnosing, treating and preventing ailments of the heart and blood vessels. Cardiologists go through special training to acquire the relevant skills that are essential in detecting and treating various heart conditions.
Given that the heart is a delicate organ, a doctor must undergo rigorous training and complete a minimum of 10 years of clinical preparation to become a certified cardiologist.
What Does a Cardiovascular Doctor Do?
The role of a cardiologist is broad, and it revolves around treating problems that affect the cardiovascular system, including the heart, veins and arteries. Some of the functions of a cardiovascular doctor include:
- Assessment: The first role of a cardiologist is to perform a physical examination on patients, usually referred to them by other physicians. The doctor will review your medical history and ask questions regarding your symptoms. They will then check the condition of your heart before ordering other tests to evaluate your blood pressure, weight and pulse rate.
- Ordering tests: Additionally, tests may be required if the initial assessment doesn't detect any heart problems. Some of the tests that can help identify cardiovascular diseases include echocardiography, stress test, cardiac catheterization and X-ray.
- Interpreting test results: Translating cardiovascular test results is the responsibility of a cardiologist or a vascular surgeon. The doctor will be able to use these test results to make the right diagnosis or determine the type of cardiovascular disease the patient is suffering from.
- Treating patients: After making the correct diagnosis, the doctor must decide the best treatment option for the patient. Treatment options may include surgery, valve replacement, heart transplant, pacemaker implantation, medication or physiotherapy.
- Prescribing medication: Before recommending a treatment option, the cardiologist might prescribe various medications to the patient to lower blood pressure for an extended period. Some of the medications that can help treat cardiovascular disease include beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors and calcium channel blockers.
- Performing interventional procedure: Cardiologists also handle emergency procedures such as interventional cardiology to reduce the chances of heart attacks. Interventional cardiology is a minimally invasive procedure that involves inserting a tube in the heart to keep the arteries open.
- Follow-up care: Follow-up care is an essential part of treating cardiovascular disease. The cardiologist must check on the progress of the patient and provide regular advice to avoid future heart problems.
At What Age Should I See a Cardiologist?
You can visit a cardiologist at any time, especially if you experience symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, increased heartbeat, inconsistent heart rhythm, seizures and persistent fainting. The cardiologist will carry out a quick assessment of your heart to determine whether you're okay or you need further testing and diagnosis.
What Are the Signs of an Impending Heart Attack?
The signs of an impending heart attack or failure can include:
- Aching sensation in your chest
- Tightness in the chest
- Lightheadedness or abrupt dizziness
- Cold sweat
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Cumberland/Dauphin/Franklin/Perry Counties: 717-731-0101
Pediatric : 717-761-0200
Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery: 717-231-8555
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