When Should You Visit A Cardiologist?
While yearly check-ups with your primary care physician are important, there comes a time where you should schedule an appointment with a cardiologist for targeted attention to your heart health. Cardiologists are doctors that specialize in heart health—diagnosing and treating heart conditions and helping you live a lifestyle that benefits your heart. In this article, we will discuss when you should see a cardiologist and what to expect.
When to See a Specialist for your Heart?
A healthy heart is essential to your overall well-being, and that’s why you should make sure you are properly taking care of it. This is where a cardiologist comes in. Cardiologists can create a plan specifically for your body type and health history.
If you have a family history of cardiovascular disease or other heart conditions, it can be very beneficial to see a cardiologist who will take time to examine you and offer the proper preventative care to mitigate the risks of developing heart problems.
There are some health conditions that should prompt you to seek out a cardiologist’s advice. The obvious times to go see your primary care physician or cardiologist is when you are experiencing any sort of discomfort. You can consult your primary care physician for cardiologist recommendations if you do not already have one. In addition to chest pain, you should pay attention to your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. High blood pressure or cholesterol can lead to cardiovascular disease; therefore, you should look for professional advice about how you can manage these conditions. If you are a smoker or are obese, your risk for heart disease is significantly higher as well.
The side effects of smoking include raised blood pressure and heart rate, lowered oxygen flow to the heart, and increases risk of blood clotting. You should quit smoking now and see a heart specialist to find out ways to decrease the risks that your smoking may have caused.
Believe it or not, your gums can also tell you about your heart health. Oftentimes, swollen gums (periodontal disease) can be a red flag for heart disease.
What to Expect
As with any new doctor visit, it can be daunting if you have never been to a cardiologist. Where do you start? Who do you call? What should you be prepared for? These are all legitimate questions. You can talk to your PCP for recommendations to a cardiologist or speak with friends and family to see if they have a good cardiologist in their contacts.
Your first appointment will consist of a check of your vitals, as well as an Electrocardiogram (EKG), which is a non-invasive way to measure your heart’s electrical activity. In addition, the clinical staff would note any details about your family and health history that the cardiologist should be aware of.
Your cardiologist will examine your heart health and may order some tests that can include blood or urine tests, an electrocardiogram (EKG), an MRI, PET, or CT scan, or a stress test, among others. From here the cardiologist can diagnose any existing conditions and determine future risk. They can also help you create a routine that benefits your heart health and decreases your risk of developing heart conditions in the future.
Important Note on Emergency
If you feel like you are having a cardiovascular emergency of any kind, call 911 or visit your nearest emergency room as soon as possible. Do not ignore the signs and symptoms of serious, emergency cardiovascular problems including heart attack or stroke.
The Bottom Line
Maybe it is time to add a cardiologist to your annual doctor visits. Your heart health is extremely important, especially if you have a strong family history of heart conditions. Talk to you physician about whether or not you should see a cardiologist and ask for recommendations.