Though many doctors choose to practice as general cardiologists who are involved in the diagnosis and long-term care of patients with heart conditions, some decide to focus on certain conditions or populations only. If you are an aspiring heart specialist, here are some subspecialties you can consider to specialize further.
While all cardiologists study the disorders of the heart, that of adults and children are different. Thus, an adult cardiologist (often called “cardiologist”) and pediatric cardiologists are two distinct heart specialists whose training courses, skills and requirements are not the same.
Adult cardiologists only see adult patients and treat heart disorders that develop later in life, most often as a consequence of cardiovascular disease. Four subspecialties within adult cardiology include:
Cardiac electrophysiology is the science of elucidating, diagnosing, and treating problems involving the electrical activities of the heart. A cardiac electrophysiologist or cardiac EP, assesses patients’ heart’s electrical system or activity by inserting catheters and wire electrodes through blood vessels that enter the heart.
Cardiogeriatrics, or geriatric cardiology, is the branch of cardiology and geriatric medicine that deals with cardiovascular disorders such as coronary heart disease, myocardial infarction, heart failure, cardiomyopathy, and arrhythmias. These all are major causes of mortality in elderly people.
Echocardiography is an invasive method that has no known risks and side effects that is commonly used in the diagnosis, management, and follow-up of patients with suspected or known heart diseases. Echocardiographist jobs focus on detecting cardiomyopathies and any chest pain or associated symptoms related to heart disease.
This branch of cardiology deals specifically with the catheter-based treatment of structural heart diseases using different interventional procedures, imaging and other diagnostic techniques. Interventional cardiologists are heart specialists who are trained to place stents in clogged arteries and repair holes in the heart to help it function properly, and allow blood to flow properly.
Although all cardiologists are familiar with the fundamentals of preventive cardiology, preventive cardiologists have a deeper understanding of known and emerging risk factors. They are general clinical cardiologists with special training in the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular problems. They conduct routine preventive checkups by non-invasive tests to detect any cardiovascular diseases at an early age.
Pediatric cardiologists are specifically trained to diagnose and treat problems with children’s heart’s structure or rhythm, or a heart difference that they were born with. They may work with patients before birth, through childhood and into adulthood. In order to provide comprehensive patient care, pediatric cardiologists need a strong background in general pediatrics besides knowledge and expertise in cardiac disease.
Cardiology is a challenging field as it requires ongoing training and updating skills to keep up with new technologies, drugs, and techniques. Yet, it also returns high job satisfaction with significant personal and financial rewards. In order to stay focused and go further in your career, you’d better weigh the pros and cons of becoming a cardiologist before deciding to invest your time in any cardiology specialization.