Does your heart ever feel like it skips a beat? Do you experience irregular, fast palpitations? Is there an inconsistent thumping in your chest? These could be warning signs that you might possibly have a heart condition. If this is the case, your primary care physician will refer you to a cardiologist to be examined further.    

Cardiologists are doctors who specialize in treating heart disease or heart abnormalities. Just hearing those words can make your heart beat faster. Breathe. Scheduling an appointment with a cardiologist does not always mean the worst. It is very common for patients to be referred to a cardiologist if they develop heart-related concerns.  

What are some reasons why doctors would refer their patients to cardiologists? 

  • Family history. Many cardiac diseases can be passed down genetically.
  • High blood pressure. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can increase your chances of having heart disease, a stroke, or even developing other serious health issues.  
  • High cholesterol. This is a significant risk factor for heart disease and can be challenging to manage.  
  • Smoking. Having a history of smoking elevates your chances of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD). It also harms almost every organ system of your body.
  • Childhood congenital heart disease. If your child has CHD, he or she will require lifelong care into adulthood so that a cardiologist can continue to monitor and treat the disease.
  • Gum disease. If you develop gum disease, your dentist may recommend that you see a cardiologist to make sure that the periodontal bacteria that travels through your body has not affected the heart valves or the heart vessels.    

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. In the United States, one person will die every 36 seconds from heart disease. It affects men, women, and most racial and ethnic groups in the U.S. Most patients referred to a cardiologist are older people with a history of heart problems, yet this disease does not discriminate. Heart disease can attack every age

Warning signs that may indicate you might have a heart condition:

  • Shortness of breath. Having trouble catching your breath while doing daily activities should be taken seriously, especially if you have not experienced this before.
  • Dizziness. Feeling like you are spinning can point to many different illnesses, including heart disease or high blood pressure.
  • Fainting. Many different conditions can cause fainting, which includes heart-related problems.
  • Chest pain. This sometimes occurs when the heart does not get enough oxygen, so it would be wise to be checked out by a doctor.

While heart disease is still the number one killer worldwide, there are lifestyle changes you can start making today that will help increase your heart health. It is never too late to plan for a healthier you.

  • Eat a well-balanced diet that is low in salt.
  • Incorporate physical activity into your daily routine.
  • Do not smoke or vape.
  • Learn to manage your stress.
  • Limit your alcohol.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Take your medication as prescribed.
  • Work with your doctor to manage your risk factors.   

Modifying these few healthy changes can go a long way. It can lower cholesterol and blood pressure, reduce the risk of developing heart disease or having a heart attack, or possibly die from heart disease even if you already have it. It can also lower your risk for other conditions such as diabetes, depression, and cancer. In general, healthy life can improve your overall mental wellbeing and health care.

Patients referred to a cardiologist should be prepared to have a physical exam performed, and blood work is drawn. The blood work will help the cardiologist to measure your cholesterol and blood sugar levels. If heart disease runs in your family, you may need to undergo further testing to check for inflammation in your blood vessels. Or you could be asked to perform an exercise stress test to monitor your EKG (electrocardiogram) levels. An EKG test is done to check for the different heart conditions. All these tests are necessary to determine if an added assessment is needed or not.  

If you continue to have questions or concerns about heart disease, please contact Dr. Thomas with CT Cardio at 337-234-3163. Dr. Thomas is an experienced cardiologist who is affiliated with the medical facilities of Lafayette General and Our Lady of the Lake. His office is located near you in Lafayette, LA, where he serves patients within the Acadiana area. He and his staff work to provide complete cardiovascular health care to all their patients. Their open communication builds patient trust to enhance the experience.