The Department of Cardiology

SOME FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT CARDIOLOGISTS – MODIFIED FROM THE AMERICAN COLLEGE OF CARDIOLOGY, CARDIOSMART

What training does a Cardiologist have?

Cardiologists receive extensive education, including four years of college, four years of medical school and three years of training in general internal medicine. After this, a cardiologist spends three years in specialized training. That’s 10 years of training!

How Does a Cardiologist Become Certified?

To become certified, doctors who have completed a minimum of 10 years of clinical and educational preparation must pass a rigorous two-day exam given by the American Board of Internal Medicine. This exam tests not only their knowledge and judgment, but also their ability to provide superior care.

When Would I See a Cardiologist? 

If your general medical doctor feels that you might have a significant heart or related condition, he or she will often call on a cardiologist for help. Symptoms like shortness of breath, chest pains, or dizzy spells often require special testing. Sometimes heart murmurs or ECG changes need the evaluation of a cardiologist. Cardiologists help people with heart disease return to a full and useful life. Heart doctors also counsel patients about the risks of heart disease and how to prevent it. Most important, cardiologists are involved in the treatment of heart attacks, heart failure, and serious heart rhythm disturbances. Their skills and training are required for decisions that involve procedures such as cardiac catheterization, balloon angioplasty, or heart surgery.

What Does a Cardiologist Do? 

Whether the cardiologist sees you in the office or in the hospital, he or she will review your medical history and perform a physical examination that may include checking your blood pressure, weight, heart, lungs, and blood vessels. Some problems may be diagnosed by your symptoms and the doctor’s findings when you are examined. You may need additional tests such as an ECG, X-ray, or blood test. Other problems will require more specialized testing. Your cardiologist may recommend lifestyle changes or medicine. Each patient’s case is unique.

What Kinds of Tests May the Cardiologist Recommend or Perform?

Examples include:

  • Blood tests: this may include advanced lipid testing, High sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP), complete metabolic panel, complete blood count, B-type natriuretic peptide, and more.
  • Echocardiogram—a soundwave picture to look at the structure and function of the heart.
  • Ambulatory ECG—a recording during activity to look for abnormal heart rhythms.
  • Exercise test—a study to measure your heart’s performance and limitations.
  • Coronary Artery Calcium Score
  • CT Coronary Angiography
  • Cardiac Catheterization—a test in which a small tube is placed in or near the heart to take pictures, look at how the heart is working, check the electrical

Do All Cardiologists Perform Cardiac Catheterizations?
No. Many cardiologists are specially trained in this technique, but others specialize in office diagnosis, the performance and interpretation of echocardiograms, ECGs, and exercise tests. Still others have special skill in cholesterol management or cardiac rehabilitation and fitness. All cardiologists know how and when these tests are needed and how to manage cardiac emergencies.

Do All Cardiologists Perform Cardiac Catheterizations?

No. Many cardiologists are specially trained in this technique, but others specialize in office diagnosis, the performance and interpretation of echocardiograms, ECGs, and exercise tests. Still others have special skill in cholesterol management or cardiac rehabilitation and fitness. All cardiologists know how and when these tests are needed and how to manage cardiac emergencies.

How Does the Cardiologist Work with Other Doctors in My Care?

A cardiologist usually serves as a consultant to other doctors. Your physician may recommend a cardiologist or you may choose one yourself. As your cardiac care proceeds, your cardiologist will guide your care and plan tests and treatment with the doctors and nurses who are looking after you.

Cardiac Risk Calculators:

Risk Calculators are developed based on pooled cohort equations and lifetime risk prediction tools. These risk calculators are not diagnostic, but they help to engage patients in conversation with their cardiologist to help determine their risk of cardiac disease and stroke, and help to aid in the discussion of appropriate guideline directed medical therapy.


1. Calculate Your Cardiac Risk: For Primary Prevention

This Risk Estimator enables health care providers and patients to estimate 10-year and lifetime risks for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), defined as coronary death or nonfatal myocardial infarction, or fatal or nonfatal stroke, based on the Pooled Cohort Equations and lifetime risk prediction tools.

The ASCVD (atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease) risk score is a national guideline developed by the American College of Cardiology. It is a calculation of your 10-year risk of having a cardiovascular problem, such as a heart attack or stroke. This risk estimate considers age, sex, race, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, medication use, diabetic status, and smoking status.


http://tools.acc.org/ASCVD-Risk-Estimator-Plus/#!/calculate/estimate/


2. Calculate your CHADS2Vasc Score

The CHA2DS2-VASc score is one of several risk stratification schema that can help determine the 1 year risk of a thromboembolic event in a non-anticoagulated patient with non-valvular AF.


The CHA2DS2-VASc score, among other risk stratification schema, can be used to provide an idea of a patient’s risk for thromboembolic event.

https://www.mdcalc.com/cha2ds2-vasc-score-atrial-fibrillation-stroke-risk

Danielle Belardo, MD

Helping my patients optimize their health and quality of life; utilizing evidence-based medicine, nutrition, and lifestyle enhancement to achieve their goals”  

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