For example, if an internist has a patient who is complaining of chest pain the doctor will refer the patient to a cardiologist. It is the cardiologist’s job to determine if the chest pain the patient is experiencing is the result of a serious heart condition or perhaps only the result of indigestion. Cardiologists will ask the patient to describe the quality of the pain. Questions asked might be does the patient experience the pain during certain activities, how often do the they experiencing pain, or how long have they been experiencing discomfort. After taking the medical history, the cardiologist performs a physical examination. This is their first opportunity to listens to the patient’s heart. Often a cardiologist can tell if there is a problem by listening to the rhythm of the heartbeat. “There are things that we listen to, that we are attuned to, that other people aren’t… and it gives us a lot of information as to whether or not there is a problem,” Stuart says.
The most common procedures performed by cardiologist are the electrocardiogram (EKG), echocardiography (ECG), and cardiac catheterization. These procedures are used to aid in evaluation and diagnosis of the heart.
Cardiologists are often called in to assist other doctors. Cardiac surgeon often request cardiologists to consult in the preoperative phase of treatment. If a patient is known to have a preexisting heart problem, a surgeon will consult a cardiologist before, during, and after a surgery to track the patient’s health.
Cardiologists do more than treat existing problems. They also provide information and advice to their patients regarding the prevention of cardiac disease. This advice is best known early on; many of the patients who see cardiologist are advanced in age and find it difficult to change their behavior. The earlier a patient is reached, the better chance preventive measures such as a healthy diet and daily exercise can be adapted into that patient’s lifestyle.