Cardiology is a branch of medicine dealing with the diseases of the heart and blood vessels. Specialists of this field of medicine are called cardiologists or heart doctors. Cardiologists know very well such diseases as congenital heart diseases, hypertension, coronary artery disease, heart failure and various disorders of the heart valves and electrical conduction. Electrical conduction disorders manifest as heart rhythm disorders (arrhytmias), such as atrial fibrillation. Here is an overview of some of the common procedures cardiologists routinely perform.
ECG or electrocardiography is a method for visualizing the electrical activity of the heart. Electrocardiogram is sometimes called simply cardiogram. Although normal ECG may vary to a certain extent, there are certain norm values based on which the ECG is assessed. ECG is a readily available and fast method, therefore it is often the very first procedure to be performed when a heart disease is suspected. Taking a cardiogram is a quick way to diagnose myocardial infarction and different heart rhythm disorders.
ECG Holter monitoring or simply Holter is a 24-hour ECG measurement. As the device is attached to the body for 24 hours, it enables to register the electrical activity of the heart during everyday life, and during sleep as well. The electrodes (pads) are attached to the chest of the patient similarly to a normal ECG and a small recording device is clipped to the belt. Long-term ECG measurement helps to detect rhythm disorders and electrical conduction disorders that may not be noticed during an ordinary ECG measurement. Holter monitoring is also used for evaluating the efficacy of treatment.
Blood pressure Holter or 24-hour blood pressure monitoring is a similar test. During this measurement, blood pressure readings are recorded continuously for 24 hours. Blood pressure Holter monitoring is used primarily for assessing the severity of hypertension and evaluating the efficacy of hypertensive treatment.
Cardiac stress test
Cardiac stress test is a diagnostic test for assessing the ability of the organism to adapt to different levels of physical load. Cardiac stress test enables to evaluate general physical fitness or load endurance and the suitability and effect of a training program. Besides that, cardiac stress test helps to discover “hidden” cardiovascular diseases (such as heart rhythm disorders that appear in response to physical load), find out the reasons for various bodily symptoms (such as heart palpitations and recurrent chest pain), and evaluate treatment efficacy and general physical condition in patients who already receive treatment. Cardiac stress test is usually performed on a treadmill or veloergometer. The patient’s ECG, heart rate and blood pressure are constantly monitored during the test.
Echocardiography or heart ultrasound enables to visualize the morphology of the heart (chambers and valves of the heart) and to assess its functioning. The latter is evaluated based on the pumping ability of the left ventricle and the contraction ability of the heart muscle, which reflect the heart pump function. Echocardiography is often performed after myocardial infarction to assess the existence, size and location of the myocardial infarction scar. Besides that, after myocardial infarction it is important to assess the extent of heart damage, reflected by the loss of pump fanction. In addition to that, echocardiography helps to ascertain the existence of fluid in the pericard (the pouch surrounding the heart) and detect possible additional structures in the heart.
Cardiologist’s consultation160 clinics
A cardiologist is a specialized doctor in the field of internal medicine whose competence covers the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of diseases of the heart and blood vessels (the cardiovascular system). The most common diseases that cardiologists are dealing with are arrhythmia, heart failure, acute heart attack or post-infarction state, and congenital heart defects. During the first appointment, the cardiologist usually examines the patient and prescribes tests and analyses that are necessary. The cardiologist also gives advice about disease prevention and plans further treatment.