What is a Cardiologist and Why Should You Visit One Today?

February 27, 2018

What exactly is a cardiologist? For most people, that is a question they never hope to answer unless they want to be doctors themselves.
Most patients will tend to put off seeing a doctor for regular check-ups until the symptoms they suffer become severe or until they are unable to function normally on their own. However, this should not be the case.

Because everyone is at a certain risk of developing heart disease at some point in their lives (cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide), visits to a cardiology center should be more frequent.

Cardiologists and What They Do

A cardiologist, sometimes also referred to as a heart doctor or a heart specialist, is a licensed physician that specializes in the study of the heart. However, they also look at a person’s circulatory and cardiovascular systems in order to diagnose and treat certain diseases that target these parts of the body.

Cardiologists diagnose or predict potential health problems by conducting one or more physical examinations to determine heart rate and blood pressure (heart screening), blood tests, and interviews with the patient, as well as referring to medical records. They also give lifestyle guidelines to patients in order to improve their current heart conditions.

Conditions that involve cardiologists usually range from heart attacks and murmurs to coronary heart disease and hypertension. Once a cardiologist knows what a patient is suffering from, he/she must make the decision whether to prescribe medication or to refer the patient to a cardiovascular surgeon.

Heart Screening

The heart is a complex, sophisticated muscle that oxygenates and channels blood throughout a person’s entire body about seventy times a minute in healthy adults. As much as it is complex and sophisticated, there are many factors that can affect its health.

Heart screening is how cardiologists examine how healthy a patient’s heart is, next to blood testing or urine testing (to determine the amount of cholesterol or glucose in a patient’s system). Sometimes, both methods are used by a heart doctor to determine what a patient is suffering from.

The electrocardiogram (ECG) is the primary diagnostic tool used to screen the heart health of a patient, which utilizes electrical signals to determine a patient’s pulse. Any irregular rhythms will then be detected and graphed on a monitor.

Other diagnostic tools that are used by cardiology heart specialist from Singapore in order to screen heart health include the tilt table test, where the patient is asked to lie on a table that adjusts from horizontal to vertical position, and the exercise treadmill, where the patient’s blood pressure and heart electrical activity are taken and monitored for any abnormalities.

Heart Disease Warning Signs and Symptoms

Many, if not most, people will put off seeing a heart doctor until a problem or significant pain arises that will interfere with their daily life, and chances are that you are one of these people. However, some of the common reasons why you should see a cardiologist in Singapore include:

• Heart/chest pain – This is a given symptom preceding many heart diseases, and should be taken as an immediate warning sign. However, you still need to see a heart specialist just in case.

• High total cholesterol – This is the sum of all the cholesterol in your bloodstream. The higher your total cholesterol is, the more reason you need to see a doctor right away.

• Have/previously had a smoking habit – Smoking poses a huge risk for heart disease because it decreases the flow of oxygen to the heart and increases the blood pressure and heart rate as a result. Smoking also contributes to internal blood clotting and damage to your artery linings.

• Gum disease – While gum disease doesn’t necessarily mean having a heart disorder, most patients with swollen gums often have heart disease as this can happen when there is inflammation in the body.

• Diabetes/Family history of diabetes – Having diabetes, whether it falls under type 1 or type 2, predisposes you to contracting heart disease at a later point in your life.
While the reasons previously mentioned might not directly indicate any direct diseases, they precede other more obvious symptoms, such as:

• Severe discomfort in the chest – When the pain spreads to other areas of the body, such as the shoulders, jaw, neck, or arms, or when the pain isn’t relieved by rest, or when the pain comes with other symptoms (e.g. paleness, clammy skin, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, or an irregular pulse)

• Severe pressure on vocal cords, resulting in hoarseness – Usually accompanied by severe pain in the chest

• Palpitations – Erratic heartbeat rhythms are a serious indication that need immediate medical attention.

• Low or high blood pressure – This could either mean that the heart is not pumping enough blood throughout the body (due to muscle weakness or other factors) or that a clogging in a major blood vessel is restricting blood flow, forcing the heart to pump faster

Scheduling Appointments

See a cardiologist as soon as possible if your family-care doctor recommends it. It is ill-advised to put it off for any reason, as even mild reasons or symptoms can indicate life-threatening diseases if left undiagnosed or untreated.

However, there is good news. When it comes to finding the best cardiologist, Singapore has many government hospitals as well as private clinics with a cardiology center. This makes scheduling for regular appointments and check-ups more convenient because of the ease of access, as well as make the necessary lifestyle changes to improve heart health.