woman being examined by medical professional

Why do I need a cardiologist?

“At your annual exam, your primary care physician will ask you questions about your overall health and review your medical and family history to determine if you need a specialist for further care, such as a cardiologist,” said Abdul Majid Siddiqui, DO, Catholic Health Primary Care Physician. “For example, you may be concerned you have symptoms of atrial fibrillation or that you have a family history of cardiac disease. You will be recommended to a cardiologist who can evaluate, diagnose and treat specific cardiac conditions.”

Dr. Siddiqui noted that cardiology has many specialties, so you will typically first be referred to a general cardiologist who will examine you and order tests, such as a stress test, electrocardiogram (ECG), cardiac MRI or cardiac CT, for a diagnosis.

“If you are diagnosed with a cardiac condition, a general cardiologist will then recommend you see a cardiologist who specializes in that area for advanced care and treatment,” he said.


What are the different types of heart specialists?

The heart specialist you need will depend on your cardiac condition.


General cardiologist

Your primary care physician (PCP) will recommend you first see a general cardiologist who diagnoses and treats problems with heart and blood vessels. These issues can include abnormal heart rhythms and high blood pressure. You may see a general heart specialist if you have symptoms like chest pain or shortness of breath or if you have a personal or family history of heart disease.



An electrophysiologist helps diagnose and treat abnormal heart rhythms. The most common heartbeat arrhythmia is atrial fibrillation (AFib). You may need to see an electrophysiologist if you are showing signs of AFib, such as heart palpitations that cause a fluttering, pounding or fast heartbeat.

Learn more about heart flutters.


Interventional cardiologist

Interventional cardiology “intervenes” with, or corrects, your heart’s health. It uses small tubes and cameras, called catheters, to diagnose and treat heart disease. You may see this specialist if you have chest pain or shortness of breath that does not go away. The most common procedure they perform is an angioplasty to open blocked arteries.

Learn more about interventional cardiology.


Cardiothoracic surgeon

Cardiothoracic surgeons operate on the heart, lungs and chest (thorax). They perform various types of heart surgery. They can also perform procedures that do not involve surgery, such as transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR).

Learn more about cardiac surgery.



Patients with cancer may need specialized care for their heart. Some cancer treatments can affect the heart and blood vessel system. A cardio-oncologist detects and treats heart problems that result from cancer treatment.

Learn more about cardio-oncology.


Cardiac rehabilitation specialist

Cardiac rehabilitation improves the health of your heart to prevent future heart problems. If you have had a heart attack or heart surgery, they can teach you how to improve your heart health. They can also help prevent heart disease from worsening.

Learn more about cardiac rehabilitation. 


Heart failure specialists

Heart failure is a lifelong condition. It prevents the heart from pumping enough blood to meet your body’s needs. It can develop suddenly or over time. A heart failure specialist can create a plan to improve your heart health and quality of life. This plan may include medication, diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes.

Learn more about heart failure.


Cardiac imaging specialists

Your PCP or general cardiologist may refer you to a cardiac imaging specialist to get pictures of your heart. These images can help diagnose and confirm heart problems. Imaging tests include an echocardiogram, cardiac MRI and cardiac CT. 

Learn more about cardiac imaging.


View our heart & vascular services.

Find Care at Catholic Health

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