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Cardiology is the study of the heart. When an individual pursues a career in cardiology, they learn every aspect of how the human heart functions, the diseases and conditions affecting it and how to diagnose and treat the specific conditions relating to the heart and circulatory system. The person interested in becoming a physician should also investigate the cardiologist salary, employment opportunities, licensing and experience required by the state they wish to practice in.

Cardiologists are physicians who are experts in the treatment and management of heart and vascular disorders. Cardiologists often work along with experts in the domain of internal medicine, cardiothoracic surgeons and other healthcare providers. Cardiologists treat patients of all age groups, ranging from newborns to elderly. The focus of a cardiologist is on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of different cardiac and vascular problems, which include: arrhythmia, hypertension, peripheral arterial disease, cardiac failure and coronary artery disease.

What Is a Cardiologist?

The cardiologist trains for years in diagnosing, treating and working with patients to manage cardiovascular ailments. Part of their education focuses on learning how to use specialized investigations such as electrocardiograms and performing procedures called interventional cardiology including:

  • Balloon angioplasty
  • Installing pacemakers
  • Interacting with cardiac surgeons during bypass or other major surgical procedures
  • Treatment of congenital heart defects
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Heart failure
  • Valvular heart disease
  • Electrophysiology

The cardiologist salary reflects the years of practice and the number of specialties the doctor practices. A cardiologist must work alongside a variety of medical professionals and experts who specialize in internal medicine, cardiothoracic surgery and other healthcare fields.

They must also be knowledgeable of the cardiac conditions and diseases affecting every age group including newborns and seniors. While attending school, the cardiologist studies how to diagnose, prevent and treat various cardiac and vascular problems including:

  • Arrhythmia
  • Hypertension
  • Peripheral arterial disease
  • Cardiac failure
  • Coronary artery disease

Cardiac Specialties

Although cardiology is a field that doctors specialize in, there are many cardiologists that specialize in other areas such as pediatric cardiology, which involves treating and managing diseases and conditions in the pediatric community. There are also opportunities to specialize in invasive, non-invasive and interventional cardiology. Each field of expertise directly affects the cardiologist salary as the doctor must be thoroughly qualified to practice each one.

Invasive Cardiology

Using open or minimally invasive surgical procedures to diagnose or treat structural or electrical abnormalities within the heart structure. Examples of common methods of invasive cardiology include:

  • Angioplasty: Unblocking arteries with large amounts of plaque by inserting a tiny balloon into the clogged vein increasing blood flow
  • Stenting: Typically performed with angioplasty; insertion of a small metal coil which keeps a clogged vein open permanently

Non-Invasive Cardiology

Identification of heart conditions without the use of needles, fluids, or devices inserted into the body. The non-invasive cardiologist salary requires experience in performing procedures including:

  • Nuclear cardiology: The study of cardiovascular disorders using imaging equipment which may include radioactive elements
  • Echocardiography: Using ultrasound waves in creating images of the heart’s and surrounding structures overall functions; pumping blood, abnormalities
  • Cardiac electrophysiology: Study and analyzing electrical currents responsible for generating heartbeats
  • Stress tests: Physical testing using exercise continually monitored by the cardiologist 
  • Heart monitors: Can be a Holter monitor or cardiac event recorder for the purpose of recording the heart’s electrical activity during a specific time
  • CT scans: Produce images which the cardiologist examines for heart disease and atherosclerosis

Interventional Cardiology

A non-surgical procedure using a catheter (a small, flexible tube) in repairing weak or damaged blood vessels, narrow arteries, etc. The diseases and conditions most commonly treated by interventional cardiology include:

  • Coronary artery disease: A narrowing of the arteries which supply the heart muscle with blood and oxygen
  • Heart valve disease: Occurs when the valves which control blood flow into the heart’s chambers are not functioning optimally
  • Peripheral vascular disease: When the heart is suffering from clogged or hardened veins and arteries in other parts of the body

Is There a Need for Cardiologists?

The number one cause of death in the United States is heart disease. Cardiologists are an essential part of the medical community performing duties critical for a patient’s survival. They provide state-of-the-art services and use the best technological devices for the purpose of diagnosing symptoms, following up with tests when needed, performing surgery, and overseeing patient care. The cardiologist salary reflects their everyday duties which include:

  • Reading test results
  • Recommending surgery and/or discussing options when indicated
  • Interpreting and discussing information on cardiovascular disease to the patient and family
  • Perform pulmonary hypertension tests and cardiac biopsies
  • Documenting patient data and interactions
  • Installing pacemakers, prescribing medications, monitoring results
  • Perform medical imaging studies and other diagnostic procedures

Job Outlook for a Cardiologist?

The U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment growth for cardiologists has increased by 18% along with all physicians and surgeons. Employment opportunities are good as there is an increase in the senior population. Note: employment growth will vary according to the cardiologists area of specialization.

The most common job opportunities are available in hospitals, outpatient care centers, universities, private or corporate practices, and self-employment. Job growth continues over the next five to ten years because of the increased number of cases and rising demand for specialists. The cardiologist salary can also be earned by working for Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), hospitals and medical schools. 

What Is a Cardiologist’s Salary?

a doctor talking to a patient
a doctor drew a heart

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