Cardiology - What it is and what's involved?
Updated: Jul 9, 2019
At a first glance for most people the word ‘cardiology’ means heart and all things associated, which is true, but it also means so much more.
Cardiology is a medical speciality that deals with the study and disorders of the human heart, cardiovascular system, veins and arteries.
Cardiologist: A cardiac will assess, diagnose and treat patients with heart and vein diseases or defects.
Cardiovascular surgeon: A cardiovascular surgeon operates on the heart and cardiovascular system to repair damage and disease.
There are three layers of tissue which make up the heart muscle:
· Pericardium – a thin outer layer which is protective
· Myocardium – this is the thick muscular layer which is responsible for pumping the blood
· Endocardium – the thin inner lining.
The heart is made up of four chambers – two on the left and two on the right-hand side. The left and right sides of the heart are separated by a muscular wall which is known as the septum. The two upper chambers are called atria and are smaller whilst the lower two are called ventricles.
Fun fact about the heart - Every day your heart pump about 100,000 times moving approximately 5 litres of blood around the body, delivering blood to other organs!
The heart has a natural pacemaker called the sinus node which sends signals through the heart muscle telling it to contract. There are some clever valves in the heart which act like one-way gates – letting the blood through in the right direction but not letting it flow back the wrong way.
There are two sets of valves on each side of the heart:
· Tricuspid valve and pulmonary valve on the right side.
· Mitral valve and aortic valve on the left side.
Like all the other organs in your body the heart needs blood carrying oxygen and nutrients in order to function. These are delivered by the coronary arteries which branch off the aorta (big artery leaving the heart) and cover the outside of the heart.
What do cardiologists treat?
Cardiologist treat a whole host of heart and vein related problems, you may find some doctors sub-specialise in certain conditions too, this is great for people who have rare or specific problems and need a dedicated consultant.
Here are some of the conditions a cardiologist may treat:
Stroke and neurocardiology - Including PFO associated stroke in young patients and prevention of stroke in the elderly with AF / LAA closure.
Palpitations - Including atrial fibrillation (AF), atrial flutter, and supraventricular tachycardia (SVT).
Cardiovascular risk factors - Including hypertension (high blood pressure) and high cholesterol.
Chest pain - Of all causes including angina, acute chest pain, recurrent chest pain and pericarditis.
Shortness of breath - Of all causes including arrhythmias and heart failure.
Athlete screening - To exclude myocardial hypertrophy (heart muscle thickening) and exercise induced arrhythmias.
Heart failure and heart muscle disease - Including myocarditis, all forms of cardiomyopathy and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
Inherited cardiac diseases - All inherited cardiomyopathies including Brugada syndrome and channelopathies.
Here at LCandVA we can diagnose and treat all of the above conditions.
There are also specific tests to diagnose and treat cardiovascular problems. These tests will be able to view your heart, check abnormalities, and measure electrical activity of your heart.
Diagnostic tests can include the below, click each test to find out what it is and what it does!
Patients suffering from symptoms like the below will need to see a cardiologist as soon as possible:
Shortness of breath
Changes in heart rate or rhythm
High blood pressure
The heart and circulatory are so vital therefore if you are worried about anything or think there might be an issue, however small it is always a good idea to have it checked, even if just to put your mind at ease.
This article is intended to inform and give insight but not treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a doctor. Always seek medical advice with any questions regarding a medical condition.