Cardiologists are doctors who diagnose, assess and treat patients with diseases and defects of the heart and blood vessels (the cardiovascular system).

Nature of the work

Cardiologists work with adult patients - paediatric cardiology is a separate specialty.

Cardiologists manage patients with conditions such as:

  • Angina (chest pain caused by narrowing of the coronary arteries)
  • Arrhythmias, eg atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat)
  • Heart murmurs due to heart valve disease
  • Cardiomyopathy (disease of the heart muscle) with heart failure including pulmonary
  • Oedema (accumulation of fluid)
  • Coronary artery thrombosis or myocardial infarction (heart attack) often associated with high blood pressure (hypertension) and high cholesterol
  • Diseases of the arteries (atherosclerosis, arteritis, atheroma)
  • Hole in the heart and other forms of congenital heart disease within adult life including transition from paediatric care and shared care of pregnant women with heart disease

Sub-specialties

The CCT sub-specialty is:

  • Stroke medicine

Most cardiologists develop sub-specialty interests such as:

  • Interventional cardiology
  • Adult congenital heart disease
  • Cardiac imaging
  • Electrophysiology including ablation
  • Electrical device therapy
  • Heart failure including cardiac transplantation and support devices

 

Symptoms that can indicate a heart problem include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Chest pains
  • Changes in heart rate or rhythm
  • High blood pressure

The cardiologist can give advice about preventing heart disease.

A person may need to see a cardiologist even without symptoms, if they have a family history of heart disease or high cholesterol, if they are or have been a smoker, if they have diabetes, or if they are starting a new exercise program.

A woman who has had pre-eclampsia may be at higher risk of heart problems in a later pregnancy or during the menopause.