Everyone has to see a doctor at some point in their lives. Unfortunately there is not one doctor that can diagnose or treat every problem. If you are having any issues or concerns with chest pains, high blood pressure, shortness of breath or issues with your blood vessels your doctor will most likely refer you to a specialist that deals specifically with these types of issues. This specialist is known as a cardiologist and they deal with preventing, diagnosing and treating diseases of the heart and blood vessels.
When you are referred to a cardiologist you can be sure that you are seeing a doctor who is highly trained in a very specific area. These doctors have an extensive educational background which includes four years of medical school and three years of training in general internal medicine. Following that they will spend another three years or more in specialized training. In order for these doctors to become certified they must have completed a minimum of ten years clinical and educational training and then pass a two-day exam that is administered by the American Board of Internal Medicine.
There are a variety of reasons that your doctor might refer you to a cardiologist. If there is any suspicion that you might have a significant heart or related condition you are a good candidate for a referral. Some patients that have heart murmurs or any signs of change in their ECG will also be good candidates for a referral. These doctors will be involved in the treatment of any heart attack, heart rhythm disturbances or heart failure. They are also very involved in helping patients who are affected by heart disease return to a normal life and they counsel patients about the risks as well as the prevention of heart disease.
Every patient has a different experience with a cardiologist. All patients will be required to undergo an initial consultation where the doctor will review their medical history and perform a physical examination. This examination may be a little more in-depth than what patients are used to and may include such things as having their blood pressure, weight, heart, lungs and blood vessels checked. Depending on the patient’s symptoms and the doctor’s findings on the examination a diagnosis may be made at that point. In some cases additional testing such as an ECG, x-ray or blood test may be required in order to make a definitive diagnosis. Pending the results and diagnosis the doctor may recommend medication or some lifestyle changes.
For some people the thought of going to a doctor is scary at any age. The thought of being referred to a specialist may be even more frightening for some people. It is important to remember that your doctor would not make a referral to a specialist unless they truly thought it was necessary. It is always better to be cautious and if there are any concerns about issues pertaining to the heart you definitely want to be in the hands of an experienced cardiologist.