What is a Cardiologist?
It is common to ask: “what does a cardiologist do?”, as the term cardiologist is not used commonly in every day life. A cardiologist is a physician (medical doctor) who specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of heart and blood vessel disease. They are experts in heart problems and the care of individuals with heart disease.
Cardiologists are termed physicians, as opposed to surgeons, as they do not undertake open heart surgery. However, cardiologists do undertake procedures, such as pacemaker implantation and angiograms, with most people favouring these less invasive procedures, rather than more traumatic surgery.
Aside from his own subspecialty interests, Dr Jordan maintains an interest in all aspects of cardiology, meaning that he is able to diagnose and treat the full range of heart conditions, termed general cardiology. In the course of their treatment, some individuals may require the input of another subspecialist cardiologist, such as a specialist in the invasive treatment of heart rhythm disorders, for example. If this is the case for you, Dr Jordan will help to select the subspecialist most suited to you as an individual and maintain an overview of your care whilst subspecialty input is provided.
Why do People Need a Cardiologist?
People seek the attention of a cardiologist when they suspect they have heart disease or for the refinement of treatment of known heart disease. Due to advances in diagnosis and treatment, heart disease has become the 2nd leading cause of death in the UK, having been recently overtaken by Alzheimer’s disease as the leading cause of death in the UK. In order to continue this trend, early recognition and treatment of heart disease, to maintain heart health, is essential.
Common Heart Conditions Treated:
The highest profile heart condition treated by cardiologists is coronary artery disease, often simply abbreviated to “heart disease”, which can cause symptoms of angina or a heart attack. Cardiologists are also responsible for the diagnosis and treatment of other heart problems, including heart rhythm disorders (arrhythmias), high blood pressure (hypertension), heart failure, heart valve disease and problems with the heart from birth (congenital heart disease). Dr Jordan is also happy to treat rarer conditions of the heart, including those affecting the nervous system, such as PoTS (postural tachycardia syndrome), inappropriate sinus tachycardia and vasovagal syndrome.
Managing Chronic Conditions
Often, heart problems can be diagnosed and cured, with no need for ongoing follow-up. However, several conditions, including heart failure and arrhythmias, can require long-term management. In these cases, regular appointments may be needed to fine-tune your care and ensure that your condition remains optimally treated, ensuring early diagnosis and treatment of any unexpected problems and prevention of commonly-occurring issues.
If long-term follow-up is indicated, this will be discussed with you at the time of your appointment and a tailored plan for the care of your condition agreed. At any time, if you need to transfer to NHS care, Dr Jordan will organise this with no fuss or delay.
Dr Jordan specialises in cardiac imaging, including stress test imaging, and therefore has access to cutting edge diagnostic techniques. He feels that there should be a preference for non-invasive diagnosis if possible, reserving invasive procedures for treatment (if needed), rather than diagnosis.
Diagnosis of your condition can involve assessing your heart structure and function with a heart tracing (12-lead ECG) and echocardiogram. If there are concerns regarding the blood supply to your heart, for example if you may be suffering from angina symptoms and/or have a family history of heart disease, a CT scan or stress test (MRI or stress echocardiography) can be used, without resorting to an invasive angiogram. In addition, if an overview of rhythm problems is needed, this can be explored with an exercise stress ECG or a continuous heart rhythm monitor or patch, worn for up to 14 days.
Preventative Care and Risk Assessment
It is important to diagnose cardiac problems early, as soon as possible after the onset of symptoms. Indeed, it is even more advantageous to test and diagnose problems with your heart before symptoms start, as some cardiac conditions can first become apparent only with the heart stopping suddenly.
Dr Jordan therefore places a strong emphasis on early non-invasive testing and preventative medicine, including aiming to reduce your blood pressure and cholesterol through healthy living, stress prevention and natural measures.
When to See a Cardiologist
You should always seek the care of a cardiologist when you have symptoms which may be due to a cardiac problem. These include chest discomfort (which could be due to angina), breathlessness, palpitations (the awareness of your heart beating) and lightheadedness.
It is also important to seek the care of a cardiologist for screening purposes, especially if you regularly play sport, have a family history of heart problems or if you have concerns with regards to you heart’s health, as a simple screening test can often put your mind at ease.
Dr Jordan accepts self-referrals, including from self-paying individuals, being happy to see you without a referral from your GP or another health professional. However, some insurance plans require you to be referred and you should therefore check this with your provider before booking an appointment.
Cardiologists are specialist doctors, who train specifically following medical school, foundation doctor training, internal medicine training and specialist training years, to become experts in diagnosing and treating cardiac problems. You should seek the help of a cardiologist if you have symptoms which could be due to a heart problem, such as angina or palpitation, or if you would like to undergo a screening test to help diagnose and prevent a significant cardiac problem in the future.