What is cardiology?
Cardiology is the science that studies all cardiovascular diseases.
This includes disorders of the heart muscle, arteries, veins, valves, pericardium and rhythm.
These diseases may be genetic, congenital or acquired.
Muscle diseases: too thick (hypertrophic, restrictive heart disease), too large (dilated heart disease), infected (myocarditis).
Valve diseases: narrowing (aortic, pulmonary or mitral valve stenosis) or coaptation failure (aortic, mitral, tricuspid or pulmonary valve insufficiency). This insufficiency may be secondary to pathologies of the muscle, have existed since birth, or may be due to an infection (endocarditis).
Diseases of the pericardium (the lining of the heart) include pericarditis of viral (most often), microbial, metabolic or cancerous origin, and secondary to autoimmune or systemic diseases.
Diseases of the arteries: thrombosis = occlusion (myocardial infarction, pulmonary embolism, intestinal infarction, ischaemia of the limbs, stroke, etc.), atheromatosis = thickening of the artery walls (causing angina pectoris, cramps in the lower limbs, loss of consciousness, etc.), dilatation of the arteries (aneurysm, ectasia, dissection, rupture: the best-known concerns the aorta).
Diseases of the veins: thrombosis (phlebitis), dilation (varicose veins), arteriovenous malformation.
Rhythm disorders: too slow (bradycardia, pause, block, etc.), too fast (tachycardia, arrhythmia, atrial fibrillation, nodal tachycardia, etc.).
These diseases are aggravated by the following cardiovascular risk factors.
How does a cardiology consultation work?
The visit is prompted by complaints (symptoms) such as :
PAIN (in the chest, arms, head, legs, etc.)
SICKNESS (feeling "empty", unstable)
SYNCOPE (loss of consciousness)
PALPITATIONS (perception of heartbeat)
OEDEMA (swelling of skin tissue)
Your family doctor (general practitioner) will, on the basis of his or her examination, consider whether you should consult a cardiology specialist.
A clinical cardiology examination includes the following: auscultation (using a stethoscope) of the heart, arteries, lungs and abdomen. Palpation of arterial pulses, oedemas, the liver, etc., as well as taking blood pressure, measuring heart rate and checking oxygen levels.
The technical examinations that can be carried out during the consultation are :
ELECTROCARDIOGRAM (recording of the electricity produced by the heart);
DOPPLER ECHOGRAPHY of the heart, arteries and veins, either at rest, during exercise or under pharmacological test;
EXERCISE TEST (examination of the heart during exercise);
HOLTER (prolonged ambulatory heart rate recording);
ARTERIAL PRESSURE MONITORING (prolonged ambulatory measurement of blood pressure);
POLYSOMNOGRAPHY (prolonged ambulatory monitoring of respiration and oxygen levels);
Monitoring and adjustment of PACEMAKERS and implantable DEFIBRILLATORS.
Which cardiological techniques should be performed in a hospital?
scintigraphy, CT scan, magnetic resonance, echocardiography and electrocardiogram with pharmacological test (drug infusion).
IN BRIEF HOSPITALISATION: catheterisation, coronary angiography, dilatation and stenting of arteries and valves, electrophysiological study and removal of rhythm abnormalities, pacemaker insertion.
All cardiovascular diseases that do not respond rapidly to treatment and/or are life-threatening, for example, all situations involving pain, respiratory distress, disturbed consciousness and/or movement, loss of consciousness, uncontrollable palpitations, generalized oedema, etc.
All cardiovascular diseases that require surgical treatment, intensive monitoring, cardiac support devices, etc.
What treatments are available?
The most important thing is a healthy lifestyle: diet, exercise, enjoyment of life, etc.
Percutaneous invasive techniques: dilatation, stenting, ablation, etc.
Surgery: coronary artery bypass surgery, valve repair = valve plastic surgery, valve replacement, correction of congenital malformations, infections, pathologies of the pericardium, heart muscle, aorta, pulmonary arteries, carotid arteries, limbs, etc.
Cardiac rehabilitation: physical exercise, healthy eating, stress management, social and family conditions, with the aim of resuming a much better life than before the accident, hospitalization, etc.