In Demand: Cardiologists
To say that cardiologists know a thing or two about the heart is a little like saying a Bill Gates knows a bit about computers. They are the heart people!

What They Do

Cardiologists are doctors who specialize in preventing, diagnosing and treating diseases or conditions of the cardiovascular system, that thoroughfare of the heart and blood vessels. Cardiologists might see patients in the office or in the hospital, where they review medical history and perform a physical examination. The exam might include checking blood pressure, weight, heart, lungs, and blood vessels. Based on examination, the cardiologist might do additional tests such as an ECG (echocardiogram), X-ray, or blood test, or other more specialized testing.

Symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pains, or dizzy spells often require special testing. Sometimes heart murmurs or ECG changes need the evaluation of a cardiologist. Cardiologists help victims of heart disease return to a full and useful life and also counsel patients about the risks and prevention of heart disease.

Most importantly, cardiologists are involved in the treatment of heart attacks, heart failure, and serious heart-rhythm disturbances. Their skills and training are required whenever decisions are made about procedures such as cardiac catheterization, balloon angioplasty or heart surgery.

Education and Qualifications

Cardiologists receive extensive education, including four years of medical school and three years of training in general internal medicine. After this, a cardiologist spends three or more years in specialized training, which winds up being more than a decade of qualifications.

In order to become certified, cardiologists who have completed a minimum of 10 years of clinical and educational preparation must pass a two-day exam given by the American Board of Internal Medicine. This exam tests not only their knowledge and judgment, but also their ability to provide superior care.

Demand and Compensation

Cardiologists are in steady demand as heart disease continues to be major factor in the overall health of many Americans.

The median salary for cardiologists is nearly $300,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.