Cardiologists are cardiovascular disease specialists who are able to treat conditions that range from extreme hypertension and high cholesterol and issues with heart rhythm. They can also perform procedures that both assist in the diagnosis and treatment of several heart problems. Cardiologists may for example, administer stress tests to uncover cardiovascular disease, perform echocardiograms to identify heart holes or heart valve issues, and order heart monitoring to uncover rhythm problems such as atrial fibrillation.
In addition, to treat these specific problems, specialist cardiologists may perform procedures. In clogged arteries, interventional cardiologists can insert stents, close small holes in the heart and place advanced devices in the heart. Other cardiologists may perform rhythm treatment procedures such as atrial fibrillation ablation procedures or pacemaker implants or defibrillators to treat more severe heart rhythm problems.
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Cardiac surgeons come from a culture that is very distinctive. Surgeons enter a surgical residency which lasts from 5 to 7 years once they graduate from medical school. Following this general surgery internship (similar to the experience of cardiologists in general internal medicine), the cardiac surgeon spends an additional 2-4 years in the field of cardiac surgery training. The “general” cardiothoracic surgeon learns to operate on the chest and upper abdominal organs.
The esophagus, the lungs, the heart, its vessels and valves, and the chest’s main major blood vessels, such as the aorta or pulmonary artery, are all functioning. As cardiac surgeons, these surgeons may choose to further specialise and restrict their practices to heart arteries and heart valves. Cardiothoracic surgeons typically perform their procedures through incisions that allow them, either by separating the breastbone or operating between the ribs, to operate within the chest.
While cardiothoracic surgeons can perform complicated repairs to the heart and its associated structures, the other significant difference is that they usually restrict their care of the patient to the time following the procedure and during recovery. Cardiologists also observe their patients for much longer periods, often to help track and manage longer-term cardiovascular problems in collaboration with a primary care physician.
Patients eventually benefit from the availability of all experts to help figure out therapies and technologies related to the growing complexities of cardiovascular disease.