Cardiology is a branch of medicine that focuses on diagnosing, treating, and preventing illnesses in the heart and blood vessels. It is a vital field that is crucial in maintaining individuals' overall health and well-being. Cardiologists are trained medical experts with a speciality in tackling cardiovascular diseases. They use a variety of diagnostic tools and techniques to evaluate the function and structure of the heart and blood vessels and work closely with other healthcare professionals, such as primary care physicians, surgeons, and nurses, to provide comprehensive care for patients.
What is the Difference Between Cardiovascular Surgery and Cardiology?
These two are often confused with each other. However, the cardiology department can plan the appropriate treatment while dealing with the diagnosis of cardiology cases. However, if a surgical procedure is required for the treatment of heart disease, the patient is referred to cardiovascular surgery. Cardiology is a branch of internal medicine and a cardiac surgeon is not the same as a cardiologist. A cardiologist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular diseases. However, a heart surgeon performs heart surgery by opening the chest.
What Are the Subspecialties of Cardiology?
There are several subspecialties within the field of cardiology that focus on specific areas of the heart cardiac, and blood vessels. These areas of expertise can be listed as follows:
This branch of cardiology focuses on the use of catheter-based procedures to diagnose and treat cardiovascular conditions. Cardiac interventional specialists use specialized catheters to access the heart and blood vessels and perform procedures like angioplasty and stenting.
Electrophysiology deals with diagnosing and treating heart rhythm disorders. Electrophysiologists use specialized tests and procedures to identify any abnormality in the heart's rhythms and to gain an accurate evaluation of the heart's electrical activity.
Heart Failure and Transplant Cardiology
This subspecialty focuses on the diagnosis of heart failure and its management. Patients with heart failure suffer from having their organs fail to receive the required blood necessary for functioning. Heart failure and transplant cardiologists work with patients to develop treatment plans that may include medications, devices, and heart transplantation in severe cases.
This subspecialty of pediatics handles diagnosis and treatment of heart conditions in children. Pediatric cardiologists work with children of all ages, from newborns to adolescents, to diagnose and manage cardiovascular conditions.
Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant Cardiology
This subspecialty focuses on the advanced management of heart failure, including mechanical support devices and heart transplantation.
What are the Diseases that Cardiology Treats?
One of the most important organs in the body, the heart's job is to pump blood into the body. However, in some cases, the heart cannot pump enough blood and various diseases may occur. Cases treated in the cardiology department can be listed as follows:
- Coronary artery disease: Coronary artery disease, a prevalent condition in heart disease coronary, is a condition in which the arteries supplying blood to the heart narrow or get clogged, reducing blood flow to the heart muscle.
- Heart attack: A heart attack, sometimes referred to as a myocardial infarction, happens when the blood supply to the heart suddenly stops, harming the heart muscle.
- Heart failure: The heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body's requirements under this state.
- Hypertension: Hypertension, which is sometimes referred to as high blood pressure, is a disorder when the blood pressure in the arteries is constantly excessively high.
- Heart valve disorders: These are conditions that affect the heart valves.
- Cardiomyopathy: This is a group of diseases that affect the heart muscle, impacting the heart’s ability to effectively and regularly pump blood.
- Atrial fibrillation: This is a type of abnormal heart rhythm in which the atria of the heart experience irregular beating.
- Cardiac arrhythmias: These are conditions that affect the heart's rhythm, causing it to beat irregularly. This may mean a heart rhythm faster than usual or very slow.
- Cardiac arrest: It is the cessation of the pumping function of the heart and the cessation of the heartbeat. This may also be due to other diseases of the heart.
- Peripheral artery disease: It is the narrowing and occlusion of the vessels other than the vessels that feed the heart. Substances such as cholesterol can accumulate on the walls of the arteries and cause narrowing of the vessels. Because of this, enough blood cannot go to the area fed by the vein.
- Acute coronary syndrome: It is the sudden cessation of blood flow to the heart.
- Angina pectoris: It is chest pain that occurs because the heart is not sufficiently oxygenated in cases such as narrowing and occlusion of the vessels feeding the heart. Angina pectoris can be a sign of a heart attack.
- Pulmonary insufficiency: It is the backflow of blood into the right ventricle as a result of incomplete closure of the pulmonary valve that allows blood to pass from the right ventricle to the pulmonary artery.
What are Cardiology Diagnostic Methods
To treat cardiology diseases, it is important to make the correct diagnosis of the disease. The doctor may take a comprehensive history from the patient and perform various tests to make the correct diagnosis. These tests can be listed as follows:
- Blood test: Heart enzymes and hormone levels can be checked with blood tests. The disproportion in blood values can be a sign of heart disease.
- Electrocardiogram (ECG): It is the recording of the electrical activity in the heart by means of electrodes attached to the chest, wrists and ankles. A heart attack in the past can be determined by ECG.
- Echocardiography (Echo): Echo, also known as a cardiac ultrasound, is taken to examine the function and internal structure of the heart.
- Holter: Since rhythm disorders in the heart cannot be understood in a short time, a longer-term test is needed. Patients with suspected rhythm disorders are fitted with a holter monitor that remains on the patient for 24 to 48 hours.
- Radionuclide testing: It is drawn to see if there is enough blood flow in the heart muscle. With the help of a radioactive substance given to the patient with a special camera, the inside of the heart is examined.
- Angiography: It is the process of examining the veins with the help of a special dye that passes x-rays by inserting a thin and flexible tube through a vein in the groin or arm.
- Cardiac Stress Test: It is taken to assess the function and condition of the heart during exertion.
- Myocardial perfusion scintigraphy: The heart vessels are examined using gamma rays with radioactive material given to the heart muscle.
- Cardiac CT scan: With this method, detailed images of the heart are obtained using X-rays.
- Cardiac Catheterization: This is the insertion of a catheter into the heart cavities and vessels. With this procedure, a biopsy sample can be taken from the heart and the pressures of the heart chambers can be measured.
Common Treatment Procedures in Cardiology
There are several treatment procedures commonly used in cardiology to manage and treat cardiovascular conditions. These treatments can be combined with one another if the circumstances of the patient demand it. Some common treatment procedures in cardiology include:
- Medications: Cardiologists may prescribe medications to manage and treat cardiovascular conditions. It includes medicines to lower blood pressure, control cholesterol levels, and prevent blood clots.
- Angioplasty: A small balloon is inflated inside an artery that has been narrowed or blocked to open up the vessel and enhance blood flow.
- Stenting: This is a procedure in which a small metal mesh tube is placed inside a narrowed or blocked artery to help keep it open and improve blood flow.
- Coronary artery bypass surgery: In this surgery, a healthy artery or vein is used to bypass any coronary artery that has been blocked or narrowed, improving blood flow to the heart.
- Heart valve repair or replacement: If a heart valve has suffered damage or malfunction, it may need to be repaired or replaced through surgery.
- Heart transplant: Severe cases of heart failure may warrant a heart transplant: replacing the damaged heart with a healthy donor heart.
- Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD): This device is utilized to monitor the heart after implanting it in the chest. An electric shock is delivered if necessary to restore a normal rhythm.
- Pacemaker: A device called a pacemaker is implanted in the chest to help regulate the rhythm of the heart if it is too slow.
When to Visit a Cardiology Clinic
Some common reasons to visit a cardiology clinic are:
- Chest pain or discomfort: If you experience chest pain or discomfort, especially if it is severe or lasting, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. This might be a leading point to a cardiovascular condition.
- Swelling in the legs, ankles, or feet: Swelling in the lower extremities may indicate heart failure or other cardiovascular conditions.
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat: If you experience a rapid or irregular heartbeat, you should see a doctor. It could indicate an abnormal heart rhythm or other cardiovascular conditions.
- High blood pressure: If you have high blood pressure that is not well-controlled with medication, you should see a doctor. High blood pressure is a significant factor contributing to an increase in the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular conditions.
Experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above or having a family history of cardiovascular disease is cause for concern, and it is important to consult a doctor.
USHAŞ - Caring With All Our Heart
USHAŞ is a government-affiliated organization that answers to the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Turkiye. Through USHAŞ, more people are aware of Turkish international health services. The goal is to coordinate and support public and business sector initiatives to promote health tourism. Furthermore, HealthTürkiye was explicitly established to promote medical tourism. So if you're looking to vacation in one of the best tourist destinations on the planet while receiving world-class healthcare, Türkiye is your ideal choice!
Please click here to get a treatment plan from hospitals that serve in this branch.