Cardiologists are physicians who identify and treat heart problems. They examine and test patients to find out if their symptoms are signs of heart disease.
The first step of an interview with a patient is reviewing their medical history. Then the cardiologist will perform a physical examination, which includes listening to the heart. Sometimes cardiologists can tell if the patient has heart problems if they have an irregular beat.
A cardiologist may send a patient to get special tests to diagnose and evaluate their symptoms. They may have a common test like an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG). An EKG measures electrical activity from heart contractions and it copies a graph for the cardiologists to review. These tests can detect lots of problems.
Yet another test is cardiac catheterization. Here a tiny tube is inserted through a blood vessel near or into the heart. Then pictures of the heart can be taken. Cardiologists examine the pictures to help them diagnose diseases and evaluate the body's electrical system.
There is another test called an echocardiogram. In this procedure, faint high pitched sounds are sent into the body. The echoes are plotted and create the picture of the heart. A stress echocardiogram evaluates the heart by measuring the amount of blood going to the muscles before and after a person exercises.
Cardiologists don't perform surgery, thoracic surgeons do. Lots of these surgeons consult with and get advice from cardiologists.
Cardiologists give their patients advice to prevent heart disease. Some the advise will probably include exercising and eating right.
To become a cardiologist, you should take biology, chemistry, health, and psychology classes in school. You must also earn a bachelors degree from college. Then you need to get your medical degree and be licensed to practice medicine. Next, to become a cardiologist, you need to complete at least seven more years of training.
Cardiologists' salaries range from $165,000-$301,000 a year and sometimes more.
The length of time a patient stays in the hospital is becoming much shorter. Before, heart attack patients would need to stay in the hospital for about a month. Now a heart attack patient may only have to stay in a hospital for two days!
Career Discovery Encyclopedia, fifth edition. Facts On File, inc. New York, NY. 2003.
Image of heart, camera, and money from "Microsoft Office Online" <http://office.microsoft.com/clipart/default.aspx?cag=1> Images free for non-profit and personal use. (October-February, 2003-2004).
Bernstein, Joanne E. and Paul Cohen. Dizzy Doctor Riddles. Niles, Illinois: Albert Whitman & Company. 1989.