Cardiology is a branch of medicine dealing with disorders of the heart as well as parts of the circulatory system. The field includes medical diagnosis and treatment of congenital heart defects, coronary artery disease, heart failure, valvular heart disease and electrophysiology. Physicians who specialize in this field of medicine are called cardiologists, a specialty of internal medicine. Pediatric cardiologists are pediatricians who specialize in cardiology. Physicians who specialize in cardiac surgery are called cardiothoracic surgeons or cardiac surgeons, a specialty of general surgery.
Although the cardiovascular system is inextricably linked to blood, cardiology is relatively unconcerned with hematology and its diseases. Some obvious exceptions that affect the function of the heart would be blood tests decreased oxygen carrying capacity, and coagulopathies.
All cardiologists study the disorders of the heart, but the study of adult and child heart disorders are through different training pathways. Therefore, an adult cardiologist is inadequately trained to take care of children, and pediatric cardiologists are inadequately trained to take care of adults. The surgical aspects are not included in cardiology and are in the domain of cardiothoracic surgery. For example, coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG), cardiopulmonary bypass and valve replacement are surgical procedures performed by surgeons, not cardiologists. However the insertion of stents, pacemakers are performed by cardiologists
When Would I See a Cardiologist?
If your general medical doctor feels that you might have a significant heart or related condition, he or she will often call on a cardiologist for help. Symptoms like shortness of breath, chest pains, or dizzy spells often require special testing. Sometimes heart murmurs or ECG changes need the evaluation of a cardiologist. Cardiologists help victims of heart disease return to a full and useful life and also counsel patients about the risks and prevention of heart disease. Most importantly, cardiologists are involved in the treatment of heart attacks, heart failure, and serious heart rhythm disturbances. Their skills and training are required whenever decisions are made about procedures such as cardiac catheterization, balloon angioplasty, or heart surgery.