These Health Alliance Specialists Care About Your Heart
Cardiology, the field of medicine that focuses on heart disease, is a complex discipline. The Health Alliance has many expert physicians who provide treatment to thousands of patients with heart disease. Below you’ll find an easy guide to who these experts are and how they may be involved in your care.
These physicians have special training and skill in diagnosing, medically treating, and preventing diseases of the heart and blood vessels. After medical school, cardiologists complete a three-year residency program in internal medicine, and then complete three more years in specialized cardiology training.
Cardiologists assess and treat symptoms related to the heart, such as chest pains, shortness of breath, or dizzy spells. Cardiologists treat heart attacks, heart failure, and heart rhythm disturbances, and they help patients prevent heart disease by modifying their risk factors. “Interventional cardiologists” perform heart catheterization, balloon angioplasty, and other non-surgical procedures.
Cardiac, or cardiovascular, surgeons operate on the heart, blood vessels, and lungs. They complete five years of general surgery training after medical school, then two or three years of cardio thoracic training. Cardiovascular surgeons perform heart bypass operations, replace cardiac valves, implant pacemakers, and surgically repair congenital defects.
Electrophysiologists are cardiologists who have received special training in heart rhythm disturbances, called “arrhythmias.” They conduct electrophysiology studies of the heart, which assess the electrical impulses that signal the heart to contract and pump blood. To do this, electrophysiologists insert long flexible wires called electrode catheters into the blood vessels and heart. Electrophysiologists not only locate abnormalities but can also treat these sites during the same procedure, with a new tissue-destroying method called “radio frequency catheter ablation.” Some electrophysiologists implant pacemakers, and all are skilled at treating arrhythmias with drugs.
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