Cardiology investigates, diagnoses, monitors, and treats diseases of your heart and blood vessels.
What is cardiology?
Cardiology is the care of patients who have heart and blood vessel symptoms and disorders. It involves the study and treatment of your heart and blood vessels, known as your cardiovascular system. It is a branch of internal medicine performed by a cardiologist.
What does cardiology involve?
Cardiology involves investigating, diagnosing and monitoring heart condition symptoms and providing appropriate cardiovascular treatment to help manage the symptoms and reduce the risk of further problems. Cardiology also includes cardiovascular screening and giving advice on preventing heart disease.
Initially your cardiologist reviews your medical history and discusses your symptoms. As many heart condition symptoms are non-specific to cardiovascular disorders, your cardiologist may use a number of diagnostic tests. The results of these tests are used to exclude or accurately diagnose the causes of heart disease, and to help make decisions about treatment for patients with cardiovascular diseases.
A cardiologist treats heart attacks, coronary heart disease, heart failure, heart rhythms, and valve problems. They offer lifestyle advice and recommendations and may perform treatments including heart medicines, heart catheterisation, coronary angioplasty also known as percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), stenting, and inserting a pacemaker. Heart surgery is performed by a heart surgeon.
What are the common cardiology tests available?
The common cardiology tests available to help identify heart conditions include:
- Cardiac blood tests
- Electrocardiogram (ECG) - to monitor your heart's electrical activity and help detect irregularities in the rhythm and structure of your heart. It can be carried out when you are resting.
- Stress ECG – this is an ECG performed when you are exercising to check how your heart responds during exercise or stress.
- Holter monitor – a portable device that records a continuous ECG, usually for 24 to 72 hours, to monitor your heart beat rhythm. It can detect heart rhythm irregularities that are not picked up from a regular ECG.
- Echocardiogram – a chest ultrasound used to view detailed images of your heart’s structure and function in real-time providing detailed scans of your heart’s muscle, chambers and valves.
- Cardiac catheterisation – a long, hollow, flexible tube is inserted under X-ray guidance through an artery to your heart to measure the pressure in your heart chambers. Dye that can be seen on an X-ray is often injected to view blood flow through your heart, blood vessels and valves, to check for any abnormalities. Cardiac catheterisation can both diagnose and treat heart and blood vessel conditions.
- CT coronary angiography (cardiac CT scan) - the most common type of cardiac catheterisation is a coronary angiogram. CT coronary angioplasty uses a contrast injection and CT scanning to examine the arteries that supply blood to your heart to determine whether they have been narrowed.
- Cardiac MRI scan - magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a magnetic field to produce images of your heart.
When should you see a cardiologist?
You will be recommended seeing a cardiologist if you have heightened risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Risk factors for heart disease include:
- high cholesterol – can increase your risk of heart and circulatory diseases.
- high blood pressure – known as hypertension, can increase your risk of a heart attack and stroke.
- diabetes - can cause damage to your blood vessels and may lead to a heart attack or a stroke.
- •obesity - can increase your risk of heart and circulatory diseases such as heart attack, stroke and vascular dementia.
- family history of heart disease - heart and circulatory diseases can run in families.
- ethnicity - can increase your risk of developing heart and circulatory diseases. South Asian, African, or African Caribbean ethnicity in the UK can increase your risk of developing some heart and circulatory diseases compared to white Europeans.
- smoking - a huge risk factor for heart disease. Smoking lowers the flow of oxygen to your heart and increases blood pressure, heart rate, and blood clotting as well as damages the cells lining your arteries.
- physical inactivity – your heart is a muscle, and like any other muscle it needs physical activity to help it work properly.
If you have symptoms of a heart condition, you may be referred to a cardiologist. These symptoms are often generic for a number of other conditions. They include:
- shortness of breath
- chest pain and tightness
- sweating, nausea, dizziness or fainting
- swollen feet and legs
- pain, numbness, weakness or coldness in your legs or arms
- changes in your heart rate or rhythm including pounding, fluttering or irregularity
- weakness or fatigue
- high blood pressure
You will need cardiology care if you have a cardiac event, such as a heart attack. You may then require ongoing cardiology monitoring once the emergency passes.
You may also choose to see a cardiologist for cardiovascular screening to help assess your risk of cardiovascular disease, detect a heart condition at its earliest and most treatable stage, and to gain preventative advice for heart disease. A range of tests are used to assess the health and functionality of different areas of your heart.
Cardiology with The Berkshire Independent Hospital
The Berkshire Independent Hospital is pleased to offer a comprehensive cardiology service for our patients. We arrange convenient appointments with a leading consultant cardiologist and provide access to state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment and tests without waiting. Our service is supported by expert and experienced specialist nurses, and physiotherapists.
Whether you need a heart health check, a diagnosis of heart condition symptoms, high blood pressure management or treatment for a heart condition, you can be assured that you will receive the very best of care and advice.
We perform cardiovascular screening to assess your cardiovascular risk, heart age and recommend heart disease prevention strategies.
At The Berkshire Independent Hospital your symptoms will be assessed and a diagnosis provided rapidly, to allow an individual treatment plan to be developed to optimally manage your heart condition.
We routinely carry out cardiac blood tests and a wide range of heart monitoring tests including ECG, stress ECG, Holter monitor, echocardiogram and MRI scans.
When visiting us you can rest-assured we implement strict protocols to minimise any risk of infection. We also have free onsite car parking for your convenience.