A cardiology consultant, also known as a cardiologist, is a medical doctor who specializes in cardiology. Cardiology is the branch of medicine which deals with the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of individuals with conditions related to the cardiovascular system, specifically the heart, arteries and veins. Examples of heart diseases a cardiology consultant often treats include congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, and myocardial infarction or heart attack. These specialists also treat aneurysm, or weakening in the wall of an artery, and atherosclerosis, or the narrowing of blood vessels.
Aside from diagnosing and treating cardiac patients, a cardiology consultant also offers health advice and information on how to prevent the development of various heart diseases by advocating healthy eating habits, smoking cessation and limiting alcohol consumption. He often prescribes maintenance medications in patients with heart diseases such as hypertension and atherosclerosis in order to curtail further complications. As a medical consultant, he is also responsible for answering pertinent questions and health concerns presented by his patients and their families.
In a hospital setting, a cardiology consultant is usually seen at the emergency room and the intensive care unit (ICU) where patients with heart complaints are often brought in. He frequently requests a variety of diagnostic tests to help him evaluate and diagnose his patients. These diagnostic tests frequently include electrocardiogram (ECG), echocardiogram, peripheral vascular ultrasound and stress testing. He may also request blood tests, such as a fasting blood sugar test to see if his patient's problems are caused by diabetes mellitus, and a lipid profile test to measure his patient's cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Patients who seek consultation with a cardiology consultant often manifest with symptoms such as breathing difficulty, chest pains, headaches and dizziness. The cardiology consultant usually performs a thorough assessment and evaluation to arrive at a diagnosis. If after his examination the cardiologist sees the need for his patient to undergo surgery, he usually refers them to a cardiovascular surgeon, a doctor who specializes in performing surgery on the heart and blood vessels.
It usually takes about ten years for a first year medical student to become a cardiology consultant. After four years in medical school and passing the medical licensing examination, he should complete a three-year internal medicine residency program. When he finishes his residency training, he then trains for another three years in the field of cardiology, where he further develops the the specific skills necessary to be a cardiology consultant.