General Cardiology is the study of the heart. It deals with the structure of the heart, its function, the detection of heart diseases and their treatment. Whenever there is a suspicion of heart disease, your family doctor will refer you to a cardiologist, a heart specialist, for further diagnosis. Or you may meet the specialist in the hospital for the first time if you need treatment there for an acute cardiac emergency. A cardiac specialist examines a patient’s heart using echocardiography. Cardiac ultrasound is an uncomplicated method to examine the heart more closely.

What Is Cardiology Concerned With?

A doctor may only call themselves a cardiologist after further specialized training as an MD. They are familiar with the treatment of the following typical cardiovascular diseases:

  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Myocarditis
  • Heart valve disease
  • Congestive Heart failure
  • Heart attack

The cardiologist also provides information about preventive measures. Since stress, lack of exercise and obesity are risk factors for heart disease, it is important to counteract them in good time. Among other things, this can be achieved with moderate exercise. The specialist can recommend suitable programs according to your fitness level and age to prevent these diseases.

Valvular Heart Disease

The heart valves usually ensure that the blood in the heart only flows in one direction. Valvular heart disease impairs normal blood flow in the heart. There are two types of heart valve disease:

  • With valve stenosis, the heart valve is narrowed. The blood builds up in front of the constricted valve and has to be pumped through the constriction with increased pressure.
  • With valve insufficiency, the heart valve no longer closes properly and blood flows back through the leaky valve.

The increased stress on the heart can lead to the thickening of the heart muscles and the expansion of the heart chamber. Depending on the severity of the valve defect, heart failure can develop.

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in most countries. This collective term hides many different ailments, which is why a uniform definition is still difficult to this day. One condition often causes the other, such as cardiac arrhythmias, which can be caused by a heart valve disease The cardiologist’s goal is to educate the public and encourage them to go to a specialist when symptoms appear. The most common cardiovascular diseases are coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, myocarditis, and cardiac arrhythmia.

The majority of people suffering from one of these diseases initially do not recognize the negative signs or classify them as not very threatening. Acute heart disease, especially in women, initially manifests itself in symptoms that are different and more unspecific than in men who do not indicate such a serious illness. For example, women with a heart attack often suffer from shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting or even complaints in the upper abdomen.

Atrial Fibrillation

Cardiac Atrial Fibrillation is one of the most common cardiac arrhythmias. This is when the heart beats irregularly. Without treatment, there are serious consequences, such as a stroke. Atrial fibrillation is a cardiac arrhythmia in which the atria move quickly and in an uncontrolled manner (flickering). This leads to an irregular heartbeat and can promote the formation of blood clots (thrombi) in the atrium. If such clots are flushed from the heart into the vessels, the result can be a stroke, for example. Atrial fibrillation can have various causes, including high blood pressure, certain heart conditions, or excessive alcohol consumption. Some forms of atrial fibrillation often begin with seizures and disappear on their own after minutes or hours.

Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary artery disease is the disease of the coronary arteries and is otherwise known as heart disease. This leads to deposits in the inner skin of the vessels, which ultimately lead to narrowing and calcification of the arteries (arteriosclerosis). By timely detection and treatment of coronary heart disease, you can avoid a heart attack or a cardiac output weakness, or a cardiac arrhythmia. Typical symptoms of coronary artery disease are:

  • Chest tightness (angina pectoris)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Irregular heartbeat

These symptoms can also be an expression of heart valve diseases. Symptoms often do not appear, although the coronary arteries are already damaged. Diabetics, the elderly and women, in particular, have an increased risk of coronary heart disease, often without the typical symptoms.

Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral Artery Disease is associated with impaired blood flow to the extremities and usually needs advanced cardiac rehabilitation. Pain when walking is typical. Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a lack of blood flow in the legs or the arms due to vascular calcification. Those affected must stop again and again until the pain subsides. Depending on the severity, peripheral arterial disease is usually divided into four stages. The first stage of the disease does not cause any symptoms.

Pulmonary Hypertension

Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a disease in which the lung vessels are narrowed due to various causes. This increases the blood pressure in the pulmonary circulation. In the pulmonary circulation, the blood is transported from the heart to the lungs and back again. The oxygen-poor blood reaches the lungs from the right ventricle through the trunk of the lungs, which is divided into the right and left pulmonary arteries. There it is again enriched with oxygen. Restricted vessels in pulmonary hypertension increase resistance in the lungs. This makes it difficult for the right ventricle to pump blood through the lungs. The result is the blood flow through the pulmonary arteries is disrupted and the blood pressure is increased, the right ventricle is increasingly overloaded.

Other consequences can be a circulatory disorder of the lungs and a worsened oxygen intake in the lungs. In the most severe case, pulmonary hypertension leads to heart failure. At an early stage, pulmonary hypertension often causes no symptoms. Complaints only appear when the disease progresses. Since the body is no longer adequately supplied with oxygen in pulmonary hypertension, those affected are severely restricted in their physical performance, quickly exhausted and complain, among other things, of symptoms such as shortness of breath. 

If left untreated, these diseases can be fatal. That’s why it’s important to visit the Carolina Cardiology Associates for diagnosis and treatment if you feel you have a problem. Visit in person or call today to set up an appointment.

The experienced physicians at Carolina Cardiology Associates are committed to the health of every patient who walks through our doors. We understand the challenges of cardiovascular disease and will work with you to provide treatment, education, and a plan for the future to help you live your healthiest life.