Non-invasive cardiology diagnostics are based on medical history, physical examination, resting ECG after a heart ultrasound (echocardiography) and exercise tests, which can be supplemented with additional tests if necessary, from ECG Holter monitoring and blood pressure monitoring (ABPM), to isotope examinations, cardiac CT and MRI.
Invasive cardiological examinations include cardiac catheterization procedures, coronary angiography, electrophysiology (to detect arrhythmias), and associated catheterization procedures such as coronary angioplasty, stent placement, or arrhythmia ablation methods that eliminate the focal point of an arrhythmia.
The most invasive cardiac procedure is heart surgery, in which the necessary care is performed with a smaller intercostal incision or a larger penetration involving a sternal incision, such as coronary artery surgery, heart valve surgery, aortic surgery, septal heart surgery, and so on.
In recent years, catheter interventions that replace major heart surgeries have been spreading rapidly for certain heart valve implants and surgeries.
What are the main contributing risk factors for cardiovascular disease?
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol level
- A sedentary and highly stressful lifestyle
- Hereditary factors in the family
- Excessive alcohol consumption
Which diseases does cardiology diagnose and treat?
- High blood pressure
- Coronary heart disease
- Cardiac arrhythmias e.g., atrial fibrillation, tachycardia, bradycardia
- Heart attack, heart failure
- Acquired or congenital heart valve defects and inadequacies
- Aortic stenosis or dilation in the first, thoracic section
- Congenital heart disease
- Inflammatory diseases of the heart: myocarditis, pericarditis, endocarditis
When and with what kind of symptoms should you see a cardiologist?
- Chest pain, pressure and tightness in the heart area mainly on exertion
- Vague chest complaints
- Stronger than usual heartbeat, fast or very slow heartbeat
- Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing
- Lineal descendant with juvenile heart disease, sudden cardiac death
- Unreasonable fatigue
- Too high or too low blood pressure
- Dizziness, weakness, occasional loss of consciousness
- Swollen lower limbs
- Asymptomatic screening and prevention for all over-40s of both sexes, and for ages 20-30 where multiple risk factors are present
What happens during a cardiac examination?
Cardiology examination begins by exploring the patient's medical history. The specialist will ask you about your complaints, any pre-existing illnesses, the medicines you have used, family illnesses and your lifestyle. Various physical examinations are then performed. Heart auscultation with a stethoscope, tapping with the fingertips, and a blood pressure measurement may be followed by additional tests needed to establish a diagnosis, such as resting ECG, cardiac ultrasound, exercise ECG, Holter monitoring, blood pressure monitoring (ABPM), or additional lab tests. Finally, based on this information, our cardiologist will find, advise, prescribe medication, and, if necessary, refer the patient for further examinations.
How should you arrive for the examination?
The patient should bring all their previous medical records to the first consultation, especially the results of cardiological examinations.