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What is Cardiology?

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 What is cardiology?

Cardiology is a medical specialty and a branch of internal medicine concerned with disorders of the heart. It deals with the diagnosis and treatment of such conditions as congenital heart defects, coronary artery disease, electrophysiology, heart failure and valvular heart disease. Subspecialties of the cardiology field include cardiac electrophysiology, echocardiography, interventional cardiology and nuclear.

Specialized Qualification

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 (often simply called “cardiologist”) is inadequately trained to take care of children, and pediatric cardiologists are not trained to take care of adult heart disease. 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 and pacemakers is performed by cardiologists.


Nature of the work

Cardiologists work with adult patients — pediatric cardiology is a separate specialty.

Cardiologists manage patients with conditions such as:

angina (chest pain caused by narrowing of the coronary arteries)
arrhythmias, eg atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat)
heart murmurs due to heart valve disease
cardiomyopathy (disease of the heart muscle) with heart failure including pulmonary
oedema (accumulation of fluid)
coronary artery thrombosis or myocardial infarction (heart attack) often associated with high blood pressure (hypertension) and high cholesterol
diseases of the arteries (atherosclerosis, arteritis, atheroma)
hole in the heart and other forms of congenital heart disease within adult
lifeincluding transition from paediatric care and shared care of pregnant women with heart disease
Common procedures and interventions
Cardiologists work with adult patients — paediatric cardiology is a separate specialty.

Cardiologists manage patients with conditions such as:

angina (chest pain caused by narrowing of the coronary arteries)
arrhythmias, eg atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat)
heart murmurs due to heart valve disease
cardiomyopathy (disease of the heart muscle) with heart failure including pulmonary
oedema (accumulation of fluid)
coronary artery thrombosis or myocardial infarction (heart attack) often associated with high blood pressure (hypertension) and high cholesterol
diseases of the arteries (atherosclerosis, arteritis, atheroma)
hole in the heart and other forms of congenital heart disease within adult life
including transition from paediatric care and shared care of pregnant women with heart disease

Cardiologist training

To qualify for training (fellowship) in cardiology, a physician must receive three years of training in internal medicine after medical school. This means a total of 10 years of medical education is required in order to practice cardiology. During the fellowship, a cardiologist receives intensive and specialized training for three years where he is trained on how to properly evaluate, diagnose and treat a variety of acute and chronic heart conditions.


The training program covers cardiovascular anatomy, physiology, metabolism and molecular biology, along with cardiovascular pharmacology that includes prescription drugs, metabolism, indications and adverse effects. Cardiologists also receive intensive training in cardiovascular pathology, biostatistics, and epidemiology.


Cardiologists acquire knowledge and competence in performing as well as interpreting procedures including physical examination, cardioversion, heart catheterization, insertion and management of pacemakers, and cardiovascular rehabilitation. They also acquire skills as well as learn techniques for managing coronary artery disease, hypertension, arrhythmias, cardiomyopathy, pericardial, valvular and pulmonary heart diseases, among others. Once training is completed, the physician then takes a cardiology examination overseen by the American Board of Internal Medicine or its equivalent in the doctor's home country.


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