Cardiology / Cardiac Surgeries
The term ''cardiology'' is derived from the Greek word ''καρδι?'' (transliterated as ''kardia'' and meaning ''heart'' or ''inner self'').
Cardiology is a medical specialty dealing with disorders of the heart. The field includes diagnosis and treatment of congenital heart defects, coronary artery disease, heart failure, valvular heart disease and electrophysiology.
Physicians specializing in this field of medicine are called cardiologists. Cardiologists treat people with diseases or conditions of the heart and people who want to learn the risk factors for heart disease. A primary care doctor or family practice doctor can work with a cardiology specialist to diagnose, treat, and manage heart conditions and help people make heart-healthy lifestyle choices. Patients who are at risk for heart disease or have a history of heart symptoms may see a clinical cardiologist regularly. People with ongoing heart conditions, pacemakers, or frequent heart trouble are likely to see a cardiologist with a subspecialty.
Cardiologists should not be confused with cardiac surgeons, cardiothoracic and cardiovascular, who are surgeons who perform cardiac surgery via sternotomy - open operative procedures on the heart and great vessels.
An EKG, which stands for electrocardiogram, records electrical impulses in your heart. In cardiology, the EKG is a frequently used tool to establish whether a patient has already experienced a heart attack or whether he may be in imminent danger of having one. This information can help both your primary physician and your cardiologist decide which treatments will be most advantageous in your ongoing care.
Cardiology subspecialties include:
Nuclear Cardiology - using nuclear imaging techniques in the non-invasive study of cardiovascular disorders and diseases, including infarction imaging, SPECT (single-photon-emission computed tomography), planar imaging, and myocardial perfusion imaging. The nuclear cardiologist uses radioactive materials.
Interventional Cardiology - involves the use of intravascular catheter-based techniques with fluoroscopy to treat congenital cardiac, valvular and coronary artery diseases.
Interventional cardiologists may perform angioplasties, valvuloplasties, congenital heart defect corrections, and coronary thrombectomies.
This subspecialty focuses on interventional procedures such as removing plaque from arteries using cutting and laser devices, catheterization, stent insertion, balloon angioplasty, and Rotoblator.
Echocardiography - the use of ultrasound waves to create images of the heart chambers, valves and surrounding structures. Echocardiography can measure how well the heart is pumping blood (cardiac output), as well as determining levels of inflammation around the heart (pericarditis). Echocardiography can also be used to identify structural abnormalities or infections of the heart valves.
Electrophysiology - Electrophysiology is the study of the heart’s electrical systems. One of the focuses of electrophysiology is the treatment of arrhythmias. These doctors implant and monitor pacemakers and defibrillators.
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Cardiac electrophysiology - the study of the mechanism, spread, and interpretation of the electric currents which occur inside heart muscle tissue - the system that generates the heart beat.
During an electrophysiology study (EPS) of the heart, catheters are threaded into a vein at the top of the leg; guided under fluoroscopy, the catheter makes its way to the heart. The catheters measure the electrical signals within the heart. EPS of the heart may be performed to determine whether the patient needs a pacemaker, why somebody is fainting if other tests have found no cause, and to help decide the best treatment for patients with arrhythemia (abnormal heart rhythm). EPS may also determine how prone a patient is to tachycardia (accelerated heart beat).
Echocardiology - These doctors evaluate echocardiogram and transesophageal echo technology used in patients.
Other subspecialties of cardiology include cardiovascular anatomy, cardiovascular metabolism, cardiovascular pathology, cardiac catheterization, molecular biology of the cardiovascular system, and cardiovascular phyiology.
Cardiothoracic surgery is a separate specialty of medicine from cardiology. Cardiologists complete an internal medicine residency. Cardiothoracic surgeons are required to complete a surgical residency.
Choosing a cardiologist depends on the specific needs of each patient. Recommendation by a family physician or other medical professional and proper insurance coverage will help narrow the list. It is important that a patient find a cardiologist that he/she is comfortable with in order to have a good doctor-patient relationship.
What is Cardiac Rehabilitation?
Cardiac rehabilitation (cardiac rehab) is a professionally supervised program to help people recover from heart attack, heart surgery and percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) procedures such as stenting and angioplasty. Cardiac rehab programs usually provide education and counseling services to help heart patients increase physical fitness, reduce cardiac symptoms, improve health and reduce the risk of future heart problems, including heart attack.
Most heart disease patients can help lower their risk of future heart problems if they make changes to improve their health. Building a healthier future is a partnership between you and the doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals who can help you change your health habits. You can play an active role in making these changes.
Taking an active role in your care will help you enjoy a healthier future. Know your goals, make changes in your health habits and take your medicines correctly. You can reduce future problems if you react quickly to new or worsening symptoms.
Many people of all ages who have heart conditions can benefit from a cardiac rehab program. You may benefit if you have or have had a -
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