What is a Cardiologist? A cardiologist is a physician who deals with diseases of the heart (cardio=heart, logist = person who studies). After medical school, to become a cardiologist a physician must finish three years (at least) of Internal Medicine - so all cardiologists are board certified in Internal Medicine and are therefore "Internists". After completing their training in Internal Medicine, they move to a part of their training called "fellowship" and they become "Fellows" or "Cardiology Fellows" in the training program to which they have been accepted. They are Fellows for between three and six years and then take the "Boards" or "Cardiology Boards" or the "Cardiology Board Exams". After passing the "Boards" they become "Board Certified in Cardiovascular Disease" or more commonly, "Board Certified in Cardiology".
Cardiologists evaluate and treat diseases of the cardiovascular system. Examples of this would include:
* Hypertention - High blood pressure
* Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) or Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD) - which is where arteries outside of the heart become blocked
* Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) - blockage of the arteries of the heart
* Arrhythmia - slow or fast heartbeats
* Valvular Heart disease - problems with the valves of the heart - either they are blocked or they leak
* Heart Failure - problems with the heart muscle
* Aneurysms - A problem where an artery enlarges and may burst
All of these diseases require very specialized tests and treatments, and this is the reason so much training is required before becoming a "Cardiologist".
One important thing to remember is that there is a difference between a "Cardiologist" and a "Cardiac Surgeon". A "Cardiac Surgeon" or "Cardiothoracic Surgeon" is someone who actually does surgery on the heart and the blood vessels. This means they open the chest of the patient, will often place the patient on a heart-lung machine and perform complex surgery to repair a problem". "Cardiac Surgeons" are all Board Certified in General Surgery, then go on to complete seven years of training in heart surgery. A Cardiologist will send a patient to a cardiac surgeon for complex surgical procedures.