Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America for both men and women, however, most people only discover this fact after it’s too late. The human heart requires regular maintenance to remain healthy. While exercise and a healthy diet are both great ways to maintain a healthy heart, only a trained specialist in cardiology can determine the condition of your heart. To better understand what a cardiologist does, we asked Cardiologist Dr. Edward Honig to give us a brief overview of a cardiologist’s responsibilities.
“Visiting a cardiologist is crucial to maintaining good health,” says Dr. Honig. Dr. Edward Honig is a seasoned cardiologist in the New York area who has practiced cardiology for several decades, and he is currently working at the prestigious Glen Cove hospital. “Unfortunately, patients have incorrect ideas about the specific roles a cardiologist performs,” explained Dr. Honig, “while most patients think a cardiologist is a heart surgeon, a cardiologist rarely performs any surgery; in fact, what a cardiologist does is diagnose heart issues and recommend a variety of treatment plans based on this diagnosis.” When asked what he thought patients should do before visiting a cardiologist, Dr. Honig said, “I would recommend patients familiarize themselves with what a cardiologist does, the kinds of tests they might perform, and the reason they perform these tests, so you will have the ability to ask educated questions during your visit.”
What tests do cardiologists perform?
As Dr. Honig explained, a cardiologist is responsible for evaluating the condition of your heart and recommending treatment to improve or maintain your hearts function. When you visit a cardiologist, they will perform a general examination of your health, and enquire about your family’s history of heart issues. The cardiologist will then administer a variety of tests that allow him to determine the current state of your heart. For example, If he was curious about the blood flow to your heart and arteries, then he would perform a cardiac catheterization, which requires a very small tube be placed near your heart to inject dye into your bloodstream, so the cardiologist can determine if plaque is restricting blood flow in any of your arteries. If a cardiologist wanted a detailed look at your heart, then he would administer an echocardiogram, which is an ultrasound scan of your heart, or a cardiovascular MRI, which uses MRI technology to produce images of your heart. Finally, if he wanted to examine what happens when your heart beats, then he would perform an electrocardiogram to examine your heart’s electrical activity.
Who should see a cardiologist?
When asked who he would recommend visit a cardiologist, Dr. Honig said, “although everyone should get their heart checked by a cardiologist at some point in their lifetime, certain at-risk groups should schedule a visit as soon as possible.” If you are suffering from chest pains, or your primary doctor has informed you that your blood pressure or cholesterol are too high, then you should make it a priority to visit a cardiologist as these are potential signs of an underlying issue with your heart. In addition to this, anyone who considers themselves a current or former smoker, has ever been considered diabetic, or their family has a history of hereditary heart issues should also schedule a visit with a cardiologist to determine the health of their heart.
“The importance of seeing a qualified cardiologist cannot be overstated,” says Dr. Honig. In his decades of treating heart issues, he says the number one thing you shouldn’t do is wait. Dr. Honig explains,”The longer you put off going the worse potential problems could become, and the less opportunity we will have to prevent future problems from arising.” He then says, “Patients should ask their primary care doctor to help them evaluate which cardiologist is right for them.” Finally, Dr. Honig urges patients not to settle: “I always tell my patients that it’s their right to seek more than one opinion, your heart is one of the most important organs in your body, and you should stop at nothing to make sure you receive the absolute best care available.”