What is a cardiologist?

A cardiologist is a heart doctor. If your primary care doctor suspects that you have a problem with your heart or blood vessels (your cardiovascular system), he or she may refer you to a cardiologist.

Cardiologists can perform a number of specialized tests that are needed to diagnose, monitor, or treat problems related to your heart and blood vessels. These could include an echocardiogram, electrocardiogram, and cardiac catheterization. Cardiologists also can help prevent diseases of the cardiovascular system. Your cardiologist can identify your personal risk factors for heart disease and suggest things you could do to improve the health of your heart. However, cardiologists are not surgeons. If at some point you need surgery, your cardiologist will refer you to another specialist—a cardiovascular surgeon.

In addition to the years of training that all doctors get, cardiologists spend at least three more years specializing in problems related to the heart.