What does a cardiologist do?

Published: Jun. 13, 2007 at 3:01 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 4, 2007 at 5:45 PM CDT
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A cardiologist is a doctor who specializes in caring for your heart and blood vessel health.To become a cardiologist, a doctor completes additional years of specialized medical educations about the heart and blood vessels. If you have (or have had) a heart or blood vessel problem, you might see a cardiologist regularly, as well as your primary care of family doctor.

Here are some things a cardiologist may do:

  • Treat blocked arteries- either the coronary arteries (in your heart)
       or the carotid arteries (in your neck)
  • Monitor your risks of heart attack, heart failure, heart valve disease,
       or abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias)
  • Perform cardiac catheterizations
  • Evaluate Holter monitor or event recorder test.
  • Implant heart devices like pacemakers, implantable cardioverter
       defibrillators (ICD's), or heart failure devices.

Interventional Cardiologist

What does an Interventional Cardiologist do?

An interventional cardiologist is a doctor who specializes in procedures to treat heart and blood vessel conditions.

Here are some things an interventional cardiologist may do:

  • Perform cardiac catheterizations
  • Perform angioplasty or artherectomy procedures.
  • Implant stents (tiny metal mesh tubes) to help keep an artery open
  • Implant heart devices like pacemakers, implantable cardioveter
       defibrillators (ICDs), or heart failure devices.

Vascular and Cardiac Surgeons

What do vascular and cardiac surgeons do?

A vascular or cardiac surgeon is a doctor who specializes in complex surgeries rather than simple procedures. Vascular surgeons specialize in blood vessel surgeries. Cardiac surgeons specialize in heart surgeries. Remember that the heart can't do its job with the blood vessels, and vice versa. So surgeries for heart and blood vessels problems are closely related too. Because of that, vascular and cardiac surgeons sometimes perform some of the same types of surgery. For instance, a cardiac (heart) surgeon might also repair blood vessels.

To become a cardiac or vascular surgeon, a doctor must first become a general surgeon. Becoming a surgeon requires additional years of specialized study and training about all types of surgery. Then the surgeon completes additional years of medical education about either vascular or cardiac surgeon.

Here are some things the surgeon may do:

  • Perform an endarterectomy ( to clear a blocked artery)
  • Repair a weak or burst blood vessels, known as aneurysms
  • Perform bypass surgery

Here are some of the things a cardiac surgeon may do:

  • Perform procedures or surgeries related to heart rhythms, such
       as ablations or the maze procedure
  • Treat valve disease by repairing or replacing heart valves
  • Repair tiny holes in the heart known as atrail septal defects
  • Perform bypass surgery
  • Perform heart transplants