A heart specialist, also known as a cardiologist, has the training to treat and help prevent diseases associated with the heart and cardiovascular system. If you are in need of a cardiologist, you may be wondering why and what you can expect during your visits.
Common reasons for a referral to a heart doctor
High cholesterol and high blood pressure are two common reasons for referral. High cholesterol may put patients at risk for heart attack, peripheral artery disease, aortic aneurysm or even a stroke. High blood pressure may put patients at risk for some of the same medical conditions as high cholesterol and prolonged high blood pressure could even cause heart disease.
Due to the risks associated with high cholesterol and high blood pressure, patients with these conditions usually see to a heart specialist for further testing as soon as possible.
Multiple factors to consider
Family history is another potential reason for referral. If someone in a patient’s family has had heart disease, a stroke, a heart attack, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, the patient will be at an increased risk of these medical conditions as well. Blood tests, stress tests and calcium scoring may help reveal any potential cardiovascular concerns.
Any pregnant women with pre-existing heart conditions, gestational diabetes or preeclampsia symptoms should be referred to a heart doctor for additional testing to weigh the risks of similar issues postpartum. This may also be in the best interest of the fetus.
Signs you should visit a cardiologist
If a patient who is experiencing concerning symptoms does not receive a referal to a cardiologist, the patient should visit a heart doctor as soon as possible. Some concerning symptoms that can be indicators of heart conditions include chest pain, chest tightness/pressure, light-headedness, fainting, fatigue, difficulty swallowing or breathing, shortness of breath and arm pain.
People with diabetes, kidney disease or a history of smoking should also see a cardiologist since these health conditions include heart disease risk. Blood work is necessary at regular physician visits to ensure if any cardiovascular issues are present. If so, we can help recommend the most effective treatment options.
The first visit to a cardiologist
At a patient’s first visit to a heart doctor will include a physical examination as well as possible blood work. Before this, the doctor and patient will discuss any of the patient’s questions or concerns and their medical history, including any medications they are currently taking. Following this discussion, a few tests may take place to determine what cardiovascular issues could be present.
A stress test on a treadmill or a nuclear stress test that involves injecting dye into the bloodstream to monitor heart activity could both take place. An echocardiogram that measures heart action via sound waves may also occur. A CT angiogram scan, positron emission tomography scan and magnetic resonance angiography are additional testing tools that can be helpful. These three tests take a closer look at what is going on inside the blood vessels and lymph vessels.
All these tests may or may not take place and they could occur at sub sequential appointments rather than during the first appointment. They will tell the cardiologist what condition the patient’s cardiovascular system is in and what kind of treatment is necessary.
Speak with a cardiologist
If there is any risk to your cardiovascular health, a visit to a cardiologist may provide you with more insight, effective treatment options and peace of mind. Schedule an appointment today to learn more about how you can improve your health with the help of a heart specialist.