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Contact person for heart failure: The cardiologist

A cardiologist is the right person to talk to when it comes to heart failure. He can expertly examine and test your heart health. You can read here which cardiological examinations you might expect when you visit a doctor and what the exact procedure is.

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The cardiologist is a specialist in cardiovascular diseases.

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What is a cardiologist?

Cardiologists are medical specialists who, among other things specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of the following typical cardiovascular diseases are:

In addition, the cardiologist provides information about preventive measures. Since stress, lack of exercise and obesity are risk factors for heart disease, it is important to counteract them in good time. This can be achieved with moderate exercise, among other things. The specialist can recommend suitable sports according to your fitness level and age.

The cardiology is the doctrine of the heart and a branch of internal medicine. She deals with the structure of the heart, its function, the detection of heart diseases and their treatment. Whenever there is a suspicion of a heart disease, your family doctor will refer you to a cardiologist, a heart specialist, for further diagnostics. Or you meet the specialist in the hospital for the first time as soon as you have to be treated there for an acute heart emergency.

By the way: The term cardiology is protected in Germany. A doctor may only call himself a cardiologist after having successfully completed further training in the field of cardiology.

Cardiological examination: This is what patients can expect when they visit a doctor

What exactly a cardiologist does depends on the examination results already available and the findings of the anamnese (Talk to the doctor about the medical history). We have summarized for you which questions you can expect and how the cardiological examinations are carried out.

History: The beginning of the diagnosis

The anamnesis discussion provides the doctor with initial information as to whether or not there is a weak heart. An important part is that Determination of the Patient complaints. General questions about this could be:

  • What complaints do you have?
  • How long have the symptoms existed and how long have they occurred?
  • How do the complaints feel, where exactly do they occur in the body?

In addition, the cardiologist can ask questions about general lifestyle:

  • What does everyday life look like?
  • Is the person affected more under stress?
  • What are your eating and sleeping habits?
  • Does the patient do sports?
  • Does he drink alcohol and / or does he smoke?

In principle, the doctor also asks about the previous medical history, because previous and concomitant illnesses provide further information on the causes of heart failure. Typically, he is interested in heart diseases such as

  • Heart attack,
  • Valvular heart disease or
  • Cardiac arrhythmias.

The cardiologist is also interested in whether the patient suffers from high blood pressure and diabetes or whether they suffered from a rheumatic disease in their youth. In addition, he usually asks further questions on the following points:

  • Medication history: In order to be able to accurately assess the symptoms, the doctor needs to know whether the patient is currently taking medication and, if so, what it is. An up-to-date list of medicines will help him.
  • Family medical history: Since heart failure can also have a hereditary component, the medical history of relatives is another aspect of the diagnosis. The specialist will therefore ask whether heart failure or other known cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks or vascular deposits (arteriosclerosis) are the cause close family members have occurred.

After the doctor has ticked off all of his questions, he decides what further tests are needed to make the correct diagnosis.

Physical, cardiac exams

During the physical check-up, the specialist can listen to the heart and lungs with the stethoscope. In doing so, he assesses whether the heart sounds sound rhythmic or whether there are abnormalities caused, for example, by changes in the heart valves. He checks the lungs for atypical breathing noises in order to detect possible signs of bronchial asthma or inflammatory processes.

The more precise determination of the pulse is also part of the basic cardiology examination, as this, for example, reveals the first indications of an existing arteriosclerosis. This can be present if the pulse can be felt badly in different parts of the body.

The doctor then has a few other examination methods to choose from:

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The measurement of blood pressure is also one of the cardiological examinations.

  • Electrocardiogram (EKG): Electrodes placed on the body record electrical impulses that are generated during a heartbeat. The connected computer documents a repetitive curve that many patients also know from a general practitioner examination. An EKG shows, for example, circulatory disorders of the heart or inflammatory changes.
  • 24-hour blood pressure measurement: The blood pressure is not only measured once in the practice: Rather, it is measured repeatedly after 10, 15 or 30 minutes under everyday conditions.1 A blood pressure cuff attached to the upper arm, which is connected to a small measuring device and a pump, is used for this purpose. This method can reveal fluctuations in blood pressure during the day and night that are not visible with a single measurement.
  • Echocardiography (cardiac ultrasound): Ultrasound is a quick and painless method in cardiology to assess the function, size and condition of the heart. Echocardiography is usually carried out at rest, but can also take place under stress on the bicycle ergometer or medically while lying down by infusing a special solution. A computer then displays moving images that faithfully illustrate how the heart works. As a result, areas of the heart muscle that are poorly supplied with blood, for example after a coronary artery constriction, can be precisely identified.

Likewise, are in the context of a cardiological examination Controls of the blood essential to

  • the so-called electrolytes (for example potassium and sodium),
  • Blood components (such as platelets and other clotting factors, red and white blood cells)
  • Heart enzymes,
  • Liver and kidney values ​​as well
  • Determine risk parameters (including: cholesterol, blood sugar and uric acid).

In addition, there are many other ways to examine the heart more closely, such as cardiac catheter coronary angiography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT). The chest X-ray is also one of the diagnostic methods.

The cardiologist decides on a very individual basis which measure is to be used with the patient and when. Sometimes it may be necessary to have further tests, depending on whether you have a disease or not.

Check by the cardiologist

If you suffer from a heart disease, regular cardiological examinations - as well as conscientious adherence to therapy on your part - are essential. He always decides on an individual basis which methods the doctor will use for the check-up appointment.

Have you ever had an operation on your heart? Pacemaker or one implanted defibrillator, the specialist also assesses these as part of the cardiological examination.

Check-ups for heart disease

Another point that falls within the remit of a cardiologist is health check-ups. The background to this is that many cardiac diseases such as heart failure, recognized and treated in good time, have a good prognosis. In some cases, they hardly limit the everyday life of those affected. So that's reason enough Have your heart health checked regularly with a cardiological exam.

As a rule, statutory health insurances pay for a one-time heart examination between the ages of 18 and 34 - every three years from the age of 35.2 Find out more about this directly from your health insurance company or a doctor.

Contact person for heart failure: family doctor, internist or cardiologist?

Would you like to have a check-up or suspect you have heart failure or other heart disease? Then it is usually the Your first point of contact is your family doctor. Describe all of your symptoms to him in detail so that he can get an accurate picture of your symptoms. The doctor will then examine you thoroughly and, if necessary, refer you to a specialist - the cardiologist - for further examinations.

The Specialist has better ways to diagnose heart failure as a general practitioner. He can, for example, perform an echocardiography and thus quickly identify malfunctions in the heart. If he diagnoses heart failure, it is important that the family doctor and cardiologist work closely together to care for and treat the patient.

By the way: An internist (specialist in internal medicine) can also be a contact person for heart failure. Often these doctors also have advanced training in cardiology.