Cardiovascular Health

Cardiovascular health relates to the health of the heart, blood vessels and the health of organs that are critically dependent on strong blood supply. Cardiologists use medical imaging studies to diagnose a heart condition and to define a treatment plan for a patient. This medical specialty also has several subspecialties with doctors who focus on a specific heart function.

Patients are referred to cardiologist. Diagnostic tests provide information about the patient’s condition. When the doctor reaches a diagnosis, a discussion begins regarding the patient’s condition and treatment options. Stress testing, cardiac catheterization, radiology studies, and a variety of other techniques are used to diagnose heart conditions.

Symptoms

Heart disease is a leading killer in many developed countries.

Specialization

In order to become a cardiologist, a doctor must complete medical school and a residency in internal medicine before applying for a fellowship in cardiology. The fellowship generally takes three years, and includes training in:

  • using diagnostic tools
  • talking with patients
  • networking with specialists in cardiology
  • pacemakers
  • heart specific medications

Once the fellowship is completed, the doctor can apply for certification as a cardiologist, and can pursue training in a subspecialty. Typically a cardiothoracic surgeon will be on a consult team when discussing surgical options.

Preparation

Gather information on your patients family history.  Determine if there is any history of heart failure in the family. Keep an updated list of symptoms that are reoccurring such as:

  • chest pain (angina)
  • shortness of breath
  • pain, numbness, weakness or coldness in your legs or arms if the blood vessels in those parts of your body are narrowed
  • swelling in your extremities
  • pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper abdomen or back

Evaluation

Finding a doctor that will support you long term is key.  Ask your doctor:

  • Who is the best heart specialist you know; if not you?
  • Have you published any articles/stories on this subject matter specifically?
  • Describe your level of experience in the field.
  • Get a recommendation of a support group and ask other patients for the name of their doctors.
  • Check with your states medical board: http://www.fsmb.org/directory_smb.html

Remember that personal rapport is nearly as important as credentials.

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