A cardiologist specializes in diagnosing treating heart conditions and diseases. Heart disease includes your heart and blood vessels – the cardiovascular system.
If you think you are experiencing symptoms of a heart attack – DO NOT WAIT, CALL 911! Symptoms may be obvious or more subtle, take them seriously and get medical care. Do not wait for your next physical. Read more about the warning signs of a heart attack here.
If you are concerned about any symptoms, you may be experiencing, talk to your health care team. Your primary care physician knows your history and combined with new symptoms may refer you to a cardiologist. Should your health care provider recommend you see a cardiologist, do it!
When talking with your heath care team be honest and do not downplay or offer explanations for what you are experiencing.
Why did my doctor refer me?
There are many reasons your doctor may refer you to a cardiologist for diagnosis, prevention, or treatment of heart disease. There are many risk factors that may make you more likely to develop cardiovascular disease and a cardiologist may be the right provider to navigate your cardiac care.
Both your primary care provider and your cardiologist will look at your health history, your family’s health history and your lifestyle. Again, it is important to be honest so that you are evaluated correctly and proper tests and treatments if necessary are implemented.
What your healthcare team will look at
Is there a history of heart disease in your family, particularly for your siblings. If there is a pattern of heart disease, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure you may need to be checked by a cardiologist.
Every time you see a healthcare professional, chances are they take your blood pressure. Your numbers are a good indicator of your risk for heart disease or a stroke. Your doctor may recommend you see a cardiologist if your blood pressure is trending up or has been high for a while.
You have peripheral arterial disease
If you have known disease in other arteries in your body, you are more likely to have coronary artery disease. The arteries such as those in your legs, to your brain (carotid artery) help supply oxygen rich blood from your heart to the rest of your body. A cardiologist may decide other testing is needed and discuss treatment options.
You may have high cholesterol and may not know it, it is symptomless. Your cholesterol numbers are important to know as they may show a significant risk factor for heart disease. A cardiologist will monitor your numbers and provide a course of treatment. They may counsel you on lifestyle habits that may help to get your numbers in a healthier range.
You have shortness of breath, palpitations, or dizziness
These symptoms may be a sign of an abnormal heart rhythm or coronary artery disease. It is best to see a cardiologist to determine if the cause is heart disease.
History of Preeclampsia
This one may surprise many. According to the Preeclampsia Foundation, heart disease research has shown that women who have had a history of preeclampsia. High blood pressure during pregnancy or in the postpartum period—have double the risk of heart disease. The risk may be even higher for those that deliver preterm babies or suffer from this condition more than once. If you had preeclampsia during any of your pregnancies, it is best to ask your doctor about referring you to a cardiologist.
Smoking does not only put you at increased risk of cancer, but for heart disease as well. If you are or have been a smoker talk to your healthcare provider to see if you should talk with a cardiologist.
You have diabetes
If you have diabetes, you are 2 to 4 times more likely to have heart disease. Diabetes is on the AHA list as one of the seven major controllable risk factors for heart disease.
You have chronic kidney disease
Your risk for heart disease increases if your kidneys are not functioning properly. High blood pressure and arterial disease are ties to kidney disease. A cardiologist can advise how your condition may affect your heart and recommend ways to help reduce your risk.
Congenital Heart Disease in Childhood
Because the heart issue you were born with was fixed it does not mean you should have routine check-ups with a cardiologist as an adult. If you were born with any heart problems or developed them as a child, talk to your doctor to see if seeing a cardiologist make sense for you.
We have all seen the warnings to consult your doctor before starting a new exercise routine. This is especially true if you have not been active, have heart or kidney disease, diabetes. A cardiologist may check for any unknown heart condition. They will advise on an exercise program that is right for your health.
Gum disease can affect your heart. Bacteria found in gum disease may travel and cause inflammation in heart vessels or infection in heart valves. Your dentist or primary care physician may recommend consulting with a cardiologist before and after visiting your dentist.
You are a Cancer Patient or Survivor
Certain cancer treatments may put strain on the heart muscles and blood vessels damaging the heart. See a cardiologist during your cancer treatment to find out if you are at risk or not.
Heart Healthy Lifestyle
Of course, while getting your heart checked by a cardiologist is important, so is making lifestyle changes to increase heart health. Many of the above risk factors for heart disease can be modified with a few simple changes. It is never too late to come up with a game plan for leading a healthier life!
If you are experiencing any symptoms of atrial fibrillation talk to your health care team. They will determine if you need to be referred to a Cardiologist like Dr. Bobish for further testing.