A cardiologist is a doctor who specializes in treating diseases and disorders of the heart and blood vessels, which are sometimes called the circulatory or cardiovascular system. They can also advise patients about their risks of developing heart disease and what they can do to prevent it.
When Should Somebody Go to a Cardiologist?
A patient should visit a cardiologist if their primary care physician tells them to. Even if the patient feels fine, the primary care physician has found something that worries them, and they want a heart specialist to check it out. A person should also visit a cardiologist if heart disease runs in their family. The cardiologist can explain to the patient what symptoms they should watch for and how they can reduce their risks of developing heart disease.
A person should visit a cardiologist if they have a condition that increases their chances of developing heart disease. Such conditions include diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Smoking greatly increases the risk of heart disease by damaging the lining of the arteries, and increasing blood clotting, blood pressure and heart rate.
Women are most likely to develop heart disease either during pregnancy or shortly after menopause. If they have a history of difficult pregnancies or preeclampsia, they should see a cardiologist.
A patient who is over 40 and planning to start a new exercise program should talk to a cardiologist. Even if the patient is already physically active, a cardiologist can still check their heart and help them pick exercises that would keep it healthy.
Symptoms of Heart Disease
Obviously, the patient should see a cardiologist if they have symptoms of heart disease. There are several types of heart disease, and they, therefore, have different symptoms. Heart disease is easier to treat if caught early, so a patient who suspects they have it should see a cardiologist as soon as possible.
In atherosclerosis, or “hardening of the arteries,” the symptoms differ somewhat between men and women. Men are more likely to have chest pain, while women are more likely to develop extreme fatigue, nausea and shortness of breath. Patients may also develop pain in the upper abdomen, jaw, neck, throat and/or back. If the blood vessels in an arm or leg are involved, the patient may feel cold, weakness, pain or numbness in the affected limb.
Some patients develop an abnormal heartbeat, or arrhythmia. The patient’s heart may beat too quickly or too slowly. Symptoms of an arrhythmia can include dizziness, fainting or lightheadedness, fluttering in the chest, shortness of breath and/or chest pain or discomfort.
Bacteria and viruses can sometimes reach the heart and cause an infection. There are three types of heart infections, and they are categorized by the part of the heart infected. They are endocarditis (interior of the heart), myocarditis (middle layer of the heart) and pericarditis (the tissue around the heart). The symptoms vary depending on the type of infection, but they include swelling in the legs and abdomen, arrhythmia, fever, weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath, rashes and a persistent or dry cough.
Better Safe Than Sorry
If you have any of the above symptoms or conditions, then it is crucial for you to see a cardiologist and sooner than later. At Cardiology Consultants of Southwest Florida in Fort Myers, our medical professional can evaluate your condition and determine the health of your heart. If a problem is detected, then our experts will work with you to come up with a plan of action. When it comes to your heart, it is far better to be safe than to be sorry down the line. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.