What is Cardiology?
Cardiology is the study of the heart and blood vessels, and a cardiologist makes sure they are functioning well. Patients see cardiologists for many issues affecting the circulatory system, including:
Hypertension, or high blood pressure
Heart attack prevention and treatment
Congestive Heart Failure, where the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the needs of the body
Heart transplant evaluation and care after surgery
Peripheral vascular disease, where arteries in the limbs narrow and reduce blood flow
Aneurysm, or a swelling in the blood vessels
Coronary Artery Disease, where the blood vessels delivering oxygen and nutrients to the heart become blocked
After performing a physical exam, a cardiologist may order a number of imaging tests in order to get a better understanding of what disease or complication might be causing problems in the heart and blood vessels. Some of these might include:
An electrocardiogram, which checks the heart’s electrical activity
X-rays to see tissues more clearly
Cardiac catheterization, where a small tube is directed into the heart to test pressure, oxygen levels, and blood flow
Although some cardiologists provide primary care, cardiologists more typically work as consultants to primary care physicians when a heart issue comes up. Cardiologists do not perform surgery, but they can perform “interventional” procedures, such as balloon angioplasty (where a balloon is used to stretch open narrowed veins) or stent placement to keep blood flowing.
What is Cardiothoracic Surgery?
Cardiothoracic surgery is the medical specialty that provides surgical care for the chest. Most often this means heart or lung surgery, but it can also include surgery on the esophagus, breastbone, or chest wall. Some cardiothoracic surgeons may specialize in the surgical treatment of children, or focus on a specific organ or surgical procedure.
Some of the diseases and procedures that a cardiothoracic surgeon might handle include:
Coronary artery disease
Heart valve surgery
Cancer of the esophagus
GERD, or severe acid reflux
Heart or lung transplants
Cardiothoracic surgeons may use various types of imaging, such as an electrocardiogram or CT scan, to diagnose problems and plan the operation. They may also offer minimally invasive surgery or robotic surgery, if appropriate, to lower the risk of scarring and infection.
Cardiothoracic surgery is an older medical specialty, but it is still one of the most amazing. Often patients who need a cardiothoracic surgeon are extremely sick, suffering from an illness that will kill them without intervention. With surgery, however, they often make a complete recovery.
Selecting a checkbox option will refresh the page.