Have the heart
We recommend seeing a cardiologist for the following reasons:
Known disease of the heart
If you have been diagnosed with a disease of your heart or circulation, regular checks with your cardiologist are warranted. In addition, it can be useful to consult your cardiologist before starting new medications or therapies for other conditions.
An extended checkup by a cardiologist before development of specific symptoms can be arranged for by your home physician or sometimes by yourself. This is meaningful in case of familial disposition for cardiovascular disease, personal risk factors like high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, diabetes, overweight or cigarette smoking.
Heart disease in relatives
If someone in your family suffers or died from a disease of the heart or circulation including stroke, a checkup for you can help prevent you from experiencing the same. Those diseases usually run in the family, especially if they occur in multiple members or at younger ages.
Before and after major surgery it is recommended to visit the cardiologist if there is an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The risk of major complications such as heart attacks during surgery can be reduced in that way.
In case of these unexplained symptoms we recommend seeing a cardiologist:
- loss of exercise capacity, increased shortness of breath
- sudden overall weakness. with or without sweat outbreak, nausea
- chest pain or pressure, with or without radiation in arms, neck, jaw, stomach or back
- dizziness or collapse
- irregular or rapid heartbeat
- swelling of ankles, legs or fluid accumulation in other parts of the body
The most common heart conditions
Heart attack - Complete interruption of the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart for sufficient time leads to a heart attack. After 5-6 hours the latest, parts of the heart die irreversibly. Arrhythmias can develop and lead to death. The cause are usually blood clots clogging calcified arteries.
Angina - Chest pain, chest pressure or tightness with or without radiation to arms or jaw can be caused by insufficient supply of the heart muscle with oxygen-rich blood. The cause are usually calcified arteries. The symptoms usually occur with exercise, but can also happen at rest or at night or be triggered by anger. Instead of pain, some people shortness of breath or overshooting increase in blood pressure with exercise.
Rhythm disorders - The heart beat is triggered by the so called sinus node and a weak electric current flows through the heart. This causes the heart muscle to contract and pump the blood. If the heart beat is triggered by parts of the heart other than the sinus node or the flow of the electric current is impeded, rhythm disorders develop such as atrial fibrillation. Patients can feel palpitations, racing heart beat, fainting or dizziness. Some patients do not feel any symptoms.
Enlarged heart - A weak heart usually grows in size. This an ominous sign and can for example be detected by a heart ultrasound. Past heart attacks, heart valve malfunction, infections, rhythm disorders or genetic disposition are the leading causes. The cardinal symptoms are shortness on breath with exertion, accumulation of water in the legs or lungs.
Heart valve dysfunction - The heart has four valves opening only one way. They should seal properly but also open wide enough not to impede forward blood flow. Inborn structural abnormalities, calcifications or infections can affect the valve function. Shortness of breat and water accumulation in the body are the most common symptoms. Prescription drugs can reduce symptoms, a definitive therapy can however only be achieved by an intervention. The decision to intervene has to be considered and timed carefully.