What Is a Cardiologist?
A cardiologist is a heart doctor. They specialize in treating heart conditions and diseases as well as helping patients manage their heart conditions as much as possible. A cardiologist will treat any symptoms of heart conditions that you have and diagnose any possible conditions.
What Does a Cardiologist Do?
Your cardiologist, or heart doctor, helps prevent heart disease through screenings and checkups. They treat symptoms of heart conditions or heart diseases. These diseases can include:
- heart attacks, when blood flow to your heart is blocked;
- heart disease (or coronary artery disease), when blood vessels that bring nutrients to your heart are blocked;
- heart failure, when your heart can’t pump blood properly;
- heart rhythms (or arrythmias), when your heart beats too fast, too slow, or irregularly; and
- valve problems, when your heart doesn’t open or close properly.
10 Reasons You May Want to See a Cardiologist
Most patients think about seeing a doctor when they don’t feel well. But they may put it off or wait for an annual physical with their family care doctor to ask questions about any physical pains or symptoms. How severe should the symptoms be before you see a heart specialist or cardiologist?
1. Physician Recommendation
If your family-care doctor recommends you see a cardiologist, do it. Don’t put it off. You’ll regret it.
2. Heart Pain
Many of us are familiar with the symptoms of heart disease such as heart attack or stroke. Other symptoms of heart disease include:
- Severe pressure, squeezing, pain, or discomfort in the chest.
- Pain or discomfort that spreads into the shoulders, neck, arms, or jaw.
- Chest pain that becomes more intense.
If you have any doubts about whether or not you are experiencing a symptom, get checked out.
3. Family History
If anyone in your family has or has had heart problems, you should be aware of heart disease symptoms and consider talking to a cardiologist about them.
4. High Total Cholesterol
The body needs cholesterol to make hormones, convert sunlight into vitamin D, and produce bile acids to digest fat. However, the higher your total cholesterol, the greater your risk for heart disease (a cholesterol level of 200 mg/dL or higher).
5. High Blood Pressure
Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to several health issues such as heart attack, heart failure, and stroke. People with high blood pressure typically don’t have any symptoms, so it’s important to have yours checked regularly. Learn how to monitor your blood pressure.
6. History of Smoking
Smoking is a huge risk factor for heart disease. It lowers the flow of oxygen to the heart and increases blood pressure, heart rate, and blood clotting as well as damages the cells lining the arteries.
Unfortunately diabetes can contribute to heart disease. If you experience symptoms of heart problems and are diabetic, you should see a cardiologist.
8. Difficult Pregnancy, Preeclampsia
Preeclampsia is often a hidden risk factor for heart disease. The two times a woman is most likely to develop heart disease is during pregnancy or post-menopause.
9. Starting a New Exercise Program
You are over the age of 40 and starting a new exercise program. You may already be working with a doctor on being more active, but a cardiologist can check your heart health and recommend exercises that would be good for your heart.
10. Gum Disease
Believe it or not, gum disease can happen when the body is inflamed. Patients with swollen gums often have heart disease.
Schedule an Appointment with a Cardiologist
Are you worried about your cardiovascular health? You don't need a referral to schedule an appointment with one of our cardiologists. We always recommend you check with your health insurance provider to make sure they'll cover the visit.
Find a Cardiologist Near You
Are You Experiencing These Symptoms? Hear Our Patients' Stories
Heart Disease Symptoms
Many of us are familiar with the symptoms of heart disease like heart attack or stroke. There are other symptoms of heart disease as well, however, to be aware of:
- Severe pressure, squeezing, pain, or discomfort in the chest
- Pain or discomfort that spreads into the shoulders, neck, arms, or jaw
- Chest pain that becomes more intense
- Chest pain that isn’t relieved by rest
- Chest pain combined with the following symptoms:
- Sweating, cool, clammy skin, and/or paleness
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dizziness or fainting
- Unexplained weakness or fatigue
- Rapid or irregular pulse
- Pain in the jaw, neck, upper back, and/or chest
- Hoarseness because of pressure on the vocal cords
- Difficulty swallowing
- Heart palpitations
- Low blood pressure
If you have any of the symptoms listed above or if your primary care doctor recommends you see a cardiologist, do it! Your heart is the most important muscle of your body, so take care of it.