Basic Overview on Types of Cardiologist
In this article, we will explore the different types of cardiologists. Many specialties deal with heart disease and related conditions. In particular, cardiology is a very large field that can be broken down into several categories based on different interests in dealing with cardiac pathology.
This field includes so much depth and breadth that it is impossible to cover each area of specialization in a single article. However, in this post, I hope to give a very basic overview of the most well-known areas in which you can become specialized as a cardiologist. If you would like further information about any of these fields such as more details on different types of cardiologists, just click it.
The Different Types of Cardiologists
There are many different types of cardiologists, but the most well-known specialties are interventional cardiology, nuclear medicine cardiology, pediatric cardiology, cardiovascular disease, electrophysiology, echocardiography, heart failure and many others.
The common thread among all of these areas is that they deal with some aspect of heart pathology or physiology. They are then further divided into categories based on the discipline in which they were trained. For instance, an electrophysiologist normally deals with electrical conduction problems of the heart while a pediatric cardiologist deals with congenital abnormalities present at birth. Also, note that some physicians may choose to specialize in one specific area despite having training in others.
Some doctors will go on to get further training in a specific area, which leads them to become a “fellow” or “expert”. For instance, sometimes a cardiologist will have an additional year of training in pediatric cardiology and then become a pediatric cardiology fellow.
Cardiologists may also be categorized based on the setting that they work in. A large number of general cardiologists work at practices that treat both adults and children with heart disease while some others choose to limit their practise exclusively to children. A small percentage focuses primarily on cardiac care for adults while another subset only cares for patients involved in research studies. Some physicians choose to limit their practice based on specific areas of interest such as sports medicine, high-risk obstetrics, etc.
What about non-cardiologist physicians with an interest in heart disease? There are several other types of doctors with varying degrees of training who have an interest in treating cardiac conditions. One study was done studying the treatment preferences among cardiologists as compared to those from noncardiology specialties.
It was found that for comparable patients, there were no significant differences in treatment plans between the two groups! So it is certainly possible that a general internist would develop an interest in cardiac care and treat many cardiac conditions just as well as a specialist. This is definitely true for cardiothoracic surgeons, which we will talk more about later on!
A Note on Cardiac Transplantation Physicians
In addition to the specific sub-specialties mentioned above, there is a separate group of physicians who are more focused on cardiac pathologies that require more advanced treatment. These include cardiologists with fellowship training in congenital heart disease, interventional cardiology, echocardiography, electrophysiology and many others. However, all of these areas are still considered to be part of the field of cardiology.
What about transplantation?
The first successful human heart transplant was done by Christian Barnard in South Africa back in 1967. Since then, many different types of surgeons have become specialized in performing transplants including general surgeons; sarcoma surgeons; pediatric surgeons; plastic/reconstructive surgeons; ophthalmologists (eye doctors); transplantation immunologists; infectious disease consultants; psychiatrists; psychologists; nutritionists/dieticians, etc.
While the heart transplant community is quite diverse in its membership, there are currently ~300-350 physicians in the United States who are board-certified in cardiothoracic surgery and have completed a fellowship training specifically in heart transplants.