Cardiology – Farrer Park Hospital
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What is Cardiology?
​Cardiology is the medical specialty that deals with diseases of the heart as well as related disorders that affect the heart, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. It also covers congenital heart defects. Cardiology specialists are known as cardiologists and their skills and training are also required in procedures such as cardiac catheterization to diagnose and treat some heart conditions.
A heart attack occurs when an artery (blood vessel) that supplies blood to the heart muscle becomes suddenly blocked causing part of the heart muscle to die. This condition is highly life-threatening. Typical symptoms of a heart attack are chest discomfort -- especially when you feel as if your chest is being tightly squeezed associated with breathlessness and cold sweats. Some elderly patients or diabetics may only feel breathless or upper abdominal discomfort.
People who are at a high risk of suffering a heart attack are those with high blood pressure, high cholesterol or suffering from diabetes. They also include those who smoke, or are obese or who suffer from chronic stress and have family members with heart disease.
If you have suspicious symptoms or believe you are at high risk of a heart attack, you should visit your doctor. The doctor will do a detailed evaluation and perform tests that may include:  
- Electrocardiogram (ECG) -- a simple, painless test that records how fast your heart beats; whether the rhythm of your heartbeat is steady or irregular; and the strength and timing of electrical activity of your heart;
- Echocardiogram or heart scan -- this tests the action of your heart using ultrasound waves to produce a visual display;
- Exercise stress ECG -- also called a treadmill test it checks for changes in your heart while you exercise;
- Computed tomography (CT) calcium scan and/or CT coronary angiogram -- this can reveal any calcium specks, called calcifications and are an early sign of coronary heart disease, as well as blockages in the coronary arteries;
- Conventional coronary angiogram using dye and X-rays.
Treatment can take many forms. They include:
- Lifestyle changes such as adopting healthy dietary habits, exercising regularly, reducing weight, and giving up smoking.
- Medication is extremely important -- the most important of these are blood-thinning and cholesterol-lowering medications but other medications may be prescribed to control diabetes and high blood pressure.
- Minimally invasive angioplasty (ballooning) and stenting to open up severely blocked arteries.
- Open heart surgery (coronary bypass) that may be required for patients with multiple blocked arteries.
It is not difficult to reduce your risk of getting a heart attack.
You should eat a ‘heart-healthy diet’. This means your meals should have more vegetables, fruits and whole grains and less of high-fat foods such as red meat, cheese and baked food. You should also limit intake of high-sodium foods such as canned or processed foods. Maintaining a good weight and managing stress can also go a long way in reducing your risk.
Those with diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol should ensure that they take their medications and follow their doctor’s instructions. If you are more than 40 years old, periodic screening for high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes is advised.
Smoking is very harmful and can cause numerous health conditions including heart disease. If you smoke, stop the habit. If you are not a smoker, don’t start because it is addictive.
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