What is a cardiologist?

David K. Singh, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Cardiologists treat problems related to the heart. The most common things cardiologists treat include:
  • Coronary artery disease. Over time, cholesterol in the body can build up in the arteries that supply blood to the heart. Eventually the blockage can cut off blood supply. This can result in a heart attack, which may lead to death or worsening heart function.
  • Heart rhythm disorders. The most common rhythm disorder is atrial fibrillation, where the heart is no longer in an organized rhythm. This disease can lead to symptoms such as shortness of breath and have significant consequences such as stroke. Patients with atrial fibrillation are five times more likely to have a stroke. 
  • Valve problems. As people get older and live longer, heart valves can either narrow or get leaky. One of the most common problems is when the aortic valve becomes narrow, which is called aortic stenosis. This can cause a number of symptoms including chest pain, fainting and heart failure.
A cardiologist is a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and managing heart disease. Cardiologists perform tests, prescribe medications and work with people to make lifestyle changes and manage risk factors.
A cardiologist is a physician who has completed four years of medical school, three years of training in internal medicine and up to three or four additional years of education and experience focused specifically on treating the heart, arteries and veins.

Some cardiologists have completed additional educational and training requirements in a cardiology subspecialty. For example, interventional cardiologists specialize in procedures such as angioplasty, during which a small tube called a catheter is used to diagnose and treat narrowed arteries, and stenting, in which a tiny mesh tube, called a stent, is inserted into the artery to help keep it open for blood flow. Other cardiology specialists include cardiovascular surgeons, who perform bypass procedures; electrophysiologists, who specialize in the heart's electrical system and irregular heartbeats; imaging specialists, who are experts in various technologies used to obtain images of the heart and diagnose problems; preventive cardiologists, who specialize in preventing future problems; and pediatric cardiologists, who specialize in congenital and other heart conditions in children.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.