Cardiology is the study and treatment of disorders of the heart and the blood vessels. A person with heart disease or cardiovascular disease may be referred to a cardiologist.
Cardiology is a branch of internal medicine. A cardiologist is not the same as a cardiac surgeon. A cardiac surgeon opens the chest and performs heart surgery.
A cardiologist specializes in diagnosing and treating diseases of the cardiovascular system. The cardiologist will carry out tests, and they may perform some procedures, such as heart catheterizations, angioplasty, or inserting a pacemaker.
Heart disease relates specifically to the heart, while cardiovascular disease affects the heart, the blood vessels, or both.
To become a cardiologist in the United States, it is necessary to complete 4 years of medical school, 3 years of training in internal medicine, and at least 3 years specializing in cardiology.
If a person has symptoms of a heart condition, their physician may refer them to a cardiologist.
Symptoms that can indicate a heart problem include:
- shortness of breath
- chest pains
- changes in heart rate or rhythm
- high blood pressure
A cardiologist can carry out tests for a heart murmur or an abnormal heart rhythm.
They often treat patients who have had a heart attack, heart failure, or other heart problems. They help make decisions about heart surgery, heart catheterization, and angioplasty and stenting.