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What is cardiology?

Cardiology is a branch of medicine dealing with the disorders of the heart and parts of the circulatory system. This field includes the medical diagnosis and treatment of the following diseases:

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Congenital Heart defects Coronary artery diseases
Heart failures Valvular heart diseases

Heart Diseases

The different diseases that can affect the heart and which are handled in the Cardiology field are:

  • Hypertension
    The blood pressure in the arteries is high in this condition. It usually doesn’t have symptoms or signs. Long-term high BP can cause coronary heart disease, stroke, heart failure etc. The main risk factor are lifestyle factors like, excess salt in diet, excessive smoking and alcohol consumption, excess body weight etc., and some medications.
  • Arrhythmias
    This is a group of conditions where the heartbeat is irregular, either too fast or too slow. Arrhythmias are classified based on the rate, mechanism, duration and the point of origin of the irregular heartbeats. The most common symptom is  the perception of an abnormal fast heartbeat, or palpitations with either a skipping beat or fluttering sensation.
  • Coronary Artery Disease
    This includes stable and unstable anginas, myocardial infarction and sudden cardiac death. This is due to the heart muscle receiving inadequate blood supply. The symptoms include chest pain or discomfort, which might spread to the shoulder, arm, back, neck or jaw. In some cases, it feels like heartburn, shortness of breath etc. The main risk factors are smoking, Diabetes, lack of exercise, high cholesterol, excessive alcohol, stress etc.
  • Cardiac Arrest
    The blood flow suddenly stops due to the heart’s inability to contract effectively.  The symptoms include losing consciousness, abnormal breathing or shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea etc., right before a cardiac arrest. The main cause for this is coronary artery disease; while other causes are major blood loss, lack of oxygen, low potassium etc.
  • Congenital Heart Disease
    These are heart defects that are present from the patient’s birth, usually a problem in the heart’s structure. Symptoms depend on the type of heart defect and it can vary from nothing to rapid breathing, blue skin, poor weight gain and tiredness. These defects could arise from infections at birth, medications, consanguinity ( too closely related parents) or dietary insufficiency etc.

Diagnosis in Cardiology

Clinical examination by physician or cardiologist is key. Their examination does not pertain just to the heart but to the detection of complications from the cardiac illness that affect other organs and organ systems.
The different diagnostic tests that are used in assisting in the diagnosis of heart diseases are:

  • Blood Tests:  Blood cholesterol, LDL, HDL, Triglycerides, Blood sugar, CPK, CPK-MB, Troponin etc. .

  • Electrophysiological Procedures
    • Electrocardiogram: monitors the electrical activity of the heart.
    • Holter Monitor: keeps track of the heart’s rhythm for 24 hours or more.
    • Event Monitor: records the short-term ECG rhythm patterns of the last 2-5 minutes.
    • Cardiac Stress Testing: assesses cardiac function and exertion related cardiac oxygen-deprivation.
    • Electrophysiology Study: helps to study abnormal heart rhythms using catheter ablation.
  • Cardiac Imaging Techniques
    The different cardiac imaging techniques used to detect heart diseases are:
    • Echocardiogram: a visual image of the heart from a echocardiograph to estimate the heart functions.
    • Coronary Catheterization:  a minimal invasive procedure used to access the coronary circulation and the heart’s chambers using a catheter, a thin tube.
    • Intravascular Ultrasound: an imaging technique using catheters with a miniaturized ultrasound probe used to see inside blood vessels.
    • Coronary Calcium Scan: a computed tomography (CT) scan of the heart used to create images of the heart and its blood vessels.

The cardiology department at Jacobs Hospital was set up in 2015.  
Jacobs hospital provides primary Cardiac Care.
The department is headed by Dr. Blessan Varghese, an experienced cardiologist who has been honoured with the Fellow of the American College of Cardiology (FACC) and supported by Dr.Liza Ann Paul, a gold-medalist physician, intensivist.

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