We all benefit from having specialists who dedicate themselves to complicated medical problems, such as cardiologists, who are specialists in diagnosing and treating heart problems. However, specialists present a challenge for many people. We don’t know when it’s time to see a specialist like a cardiologist.
At South Denver Cardiology, we want to help patients get the heart-healthy care they need, and not avoid visiting a cardiologist just because you think it’s unnecessary. That’s why we’re providing this helpful guide on the ten most common reasons to see a cardiologist.
1. Referred by Your Primary Care Physician
If your primary care physician refers you to a cardiologist, they have a good reason for it. Take their advice and see a cardiologist at your first opportunity. The odds are pretty good that it’s one of the other items on this list. However, if it’s some other cause, don’t second-guess their recommendation—take it seriously and see a heart physician.
*If you are experiencing any of the below symptoms and you have a primary care provider, discuss with them if seeing a cardiologist is right for you.
2. You Have Chest Pain
If you are experiencing chest pain that you have never had before, it is always a good idea to have it evaluated by your PCP or visit the emergency department ASAP. After you have had your chest pain initially examined by your PCP or Emergency Department, seeing a cardiologist may also be appropriate. There are many other potential causes of chest pains, but it’s much more serious to miss a heart attack or other heart disease signs than to get a heart checkup when you might not have needed it.
It’s especially important to see a heart doctor if any other items on this list apply when you experience chest pain.
3. You Have Heart Palpitations and Other Worrying Symptoms
Heart palpitations can be very worrying. They feel like your heart is racing, beating erratically, or straining to beat. You might also experience shortness of breath, dizziness, or fatigue.
Heart palpitations aren’t always a sign of heart disease, arrhythmia, or other serious heart health problems, but they could be. Using tests such as ambulatory monitoring, a cardiologist is the best person to distinguish when heart palpitations demand further action.
4. You Have High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is an indicator of or precursor to many dangerous and deadly heart health problems. We may be able to head off heart disease, stroke, heart attack, and more if we respond in a timely way to high blood pressure.
5. You Have High Cholesterol
High cholesterol establishes the conditions for heart disease. Cholesterol is one of the main components of arterial plaque – the buildup that can block your arteries, leading to heart attack, or can break away, leading to pulmonary embolism or stroke.
A cardiologist can look at your cholesterol numbers and health history to decide if you would benefit from a calcium heart score test to check for plaque in your heart’s arteries.
6. You Have Diabetes
Diabetes can significantly increase your risk of heart disease. In addition to working hard to control your blood sugar, you should talk to a heart physician about what damage has already done to your heart and arteries before your diabetes was diagnosed.
7. You Have a Family History of Heart Disease
Heart disease runs in families. If you have relatives who developed heart disease, had a stroke, or died from cardiovascular causes, you should consult with a heart doctor. Cardiology tells us which heart conditions are most likely to be shared in families, and how best to prevent these conditions.
8. You Are or Were a Smoker
Smoking doesn’t just damage your lungs, it hurts your heart and your entire cardiovascular system. Even if you’ve quit smoking, it’s important to talk to a cardiologist. Some impacts of smoking are permanent, while others can be reversed, though it might take decades to achieve the heart health of a never-smoker.
9. You Had Preeclampsia During Pregnancy
Pregnancy can increase a woman’s risk of developing heart disease. The risk is especially high if a woman develops preeclampsia. This pregnancy complication, characterized by high blood pressure during or after pregnancy, can double your risk of heart disease. If you had preeclampsia during one or more pregnancy, it is best to get your heart checked.
10. You Are Inactive but Want to Start Exercising
Getting regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your heart health in the long term. However, it’s also possible to cause serious harm if you start an exercise routine too quickly for your heart.
If you currently lead an inactive life but are looking to start a new exercise routine, let a heart doctor evaluate your heart health first. They can let you know what level of activity is appropriate to your current health and how to ramp up your routine to build a strong heart over time.
*As a disclaimer, if you are experiencing chest, jaw, or back pain, shortness of breath, or other symptoms that make you feel ill, we encourage you to notify your PCP immediately or go to the nearest emergency department or call 911 to have your symptoms evaluated.
Cardiologists in Littleton and Beyond
If you are in the South Denver area and think that it’s time to see a cardiologist, let South Denver Cardiology Associates help. Our team of heart specialists will perform a thorough diagnostic evaluation to understand the cause of your heart condition, and we can recommend the right treatment plan for your specific needs.
Please call 303-744-1065 to request an appointment at our central Englewood office or at our locations in Denver, Castle Rock, or Parker.
As with any health concerns, your specific treatment program should be discussed thoroughly with your primary care physician as well as any specialists who may need to be consulted – like a cardiologist.