Cardiology is the branch of medicine that deals with the heart and vascular system, which pumps blood around the body. Doctors who specialise in cardiology are called cardiologists, and treat patients who have suffered heart attacks – otherwise known as cardiac arrests – and other conditions. They also treat patients who were born with heart problems, and try to prevent heart disease.
There are two main branches of cardiology:
Non-invasive cardiology means detecting and diagnosing heart problems using techniques such as blood tests, electrocardiography, where the heart’s electrical activity is examined with an ECG machine, and cardiac stress testing, which looks at how the heart responds to exercise.
Non-invasive cardiology may also involve using a defibrillator, which gives a patient an electric shock to start the heart pumping correctly after a cardiac arrest, and prescribing certain drugs.
Interventional cardiology means treating heart problems by inserting catheters – or tubes – into a patient’s body. These techniques include anginoplasty, where a tube is inflated inside the arteries to allow the blood to flow properly, and cardiac ablation, where a catheter fitted with an electricity-emitting electrode is inserted into the body to treat people with irregular heart rhythms – or ‘heart flutters’.