In medical science, Cardiology deals with the disorders of heart. The term has been derived from a Greek word ‘‘καρδιά’’ which means heart or inner self. This discipline also deals with diagnosis and treatment of various congenital heart diseases like coronary artery disease, valvular heart disease, electrophysiology and heart failure. The physicians specializing in this field are known as Cardiologists. They should not be confused with cardiac surgeons, cardiovascular and cardiothoracic which are surgeons that perform various cardiac surgeries with the help of sternomtomy. These are open operative procedures on heart and great vessels. It is the specialty of internal medicine
Cardiology has various subspecialties which are as follows:
Interventional Cardiology: This involves the use of techniques that are intravascular catheter with fluoroscopy to treat diseases related to coronary artery, valvular, and congenital conditions. The cardiologists at our hospital also perform angioplasties, congenital heart defect corrections and coronary thrombectomies.
Nuclear Cardiology: In this subspecialty nuclear imaging techniques are used in non-invasive study to examine various cardiovascular disorders and diseases. Some of these include imaging, SPECT (single photo-emission computed tomography), myocardial perfusion imaging and planar imaging with the help of radioactive materials.
Echocardiography: The term means that how well the heart can pump blood and determine the levels of inflammation around the heart with the help of pericarditis. Here ultrasound waves are used to create the image of heart chambers, surrounding structures and valves. This also helps to identify various structural abnormalities or infections of heart valves.
Cardiac Electrophysiology: It deals with the study of mechanism, interpretation and spread of electric currents that occur inside heart muscle tissue. It is a system that generates heart beat and during electrophysiology study of the heart. It is a science of diagnosing, treating and elucidating the electrical activities of the heart.
Tests to Diagnose Heart Disease
Diagnosis of heart diseases is based on a series of tests: however, the doctor first assesses how well your heart is functioning by standard and simple procedures, such as listening to your heart, taking your heart rate and your blood pressure.
ECG (Electrocardiogram) is a test that measures the electrical activity of the heart. The heart is a muscular organ that beats in the rhythm to pump the blood through the body. The electrical impulses made while the heart is beating are recorded and usually shown on a piece of paper.
Chest X Ray
The chest X-ray is the most commonly performed diagnostic x-ray examination. It involves exposing a part of the body to a small dose of ionizing radiation to produce a picture inside of the body.
The echocardiogram is an extremely useful test for studying the heart’s anatomy. It is non-invasive and entirely safe, and when interpreted by well-trained cardiologists, is very accurate. A transducer is placed over the patient’s chest wall. It is moved back and forth across the chest wall, collecting “views” of the heart. A Vaseline-like gel is applied to the chest wall to aid in sliding the transducer back and forth. The test takes 15-30 minutes to be completed.
It is used to determine the amount of stress heart can manage before developing either an abnormal rhythm or evidence of ischemia (not enough blood flow to the heart muscle). The exercise stress test, (exercise electrocardiogram, stress ECG) is the most common stress and it is used to see how the heart responds to exertion. It usually involves walking on a treadmill of pedalling a stationary bike at increasing levels of difficulty, while your electrocardiogram, heart rate and blood pressure are monitored. It can be combined with echocardiography before and after exercise for optimal results.
Holter Monitoring Test
Holter monitoring is a continuous recording of heart rhythm during normal activity, usually 24 hours. This test will help the doctor evaluate the type and amount of irregular heartbeats during regular activities, exercise and sleep. Electrodes are placed on patient’s chest and attached to a small battery operated recorder. The heart’s electrical activity is recorded usually for a 24-hour period. The recording is then analysed by a heart specialist, a report of the heart’s activity is tabulated, and irregular heart activity is correlated with activity.
Angiography is a minimally invasive medical test helps cardiologists diagnose and treat medical conditions. In catheter angiography, a thing plastic tube, called a catheter is inserted into an artery through a small puncture in the skin. Once the catheter is guided to the area being examined, a contrast material is injected through the tube and images are captured using a small dose of ionizing radiation.