Below are a range of specialist medical services that may be helpful with various heart conditions.
Medical services include consultations with a specialist, diagnostic interventions and treatment procedures, and cardiothoracic surgery. You usually need a referral from your GP to see a cardiologist.
The Heart Foundation website is a useful source for detailed information about heart conditions.
Heart Specialist or Cardiologist
A Cardiologist or Heart Specialist specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of congenital heart defects (defects in the structure of the heart and other blood vessels present at birth), coronary artery disease, heart failure, diseases of the heart valves and electrophysiology (the electrical activities of the heart).
Services offered can include: electrocardiogram (ECG), blood tests, coronary angiogram, pacemaker implantation, assessment and treatment of arrhythmia and many more.
Angiography is a procedure performed to view blood vessels in many areas of the body. Traditionally, this is done by injecting a harmless dye that is radiopaque (does not allow X-rays to penetrate) and so the blood vessels can be outlined on X-rays or by using other imaging techniques.
Angioplasty is a minimally invasive surgical repair of a blood vessel, such as a blocked or narrowed coronary (heart) artery, which aims to improve blood flow.
Heart Surgeons (Cardiothoracic Surgery)
There are two main types of Cardiothoracic surgery. Cardiac surgery involves the heart and large blood vessels around it, and thoracic surgery (surgery inside the chest) involves the lungs and any other thoracic organ.
Echocardiography involves a non-invasive diagnostic test that uses ultrasound waves to create either two-dimensional or three-dimensional images of the heart chambers, valves and surrounding structures. The images are called an echocardiogram.
Exercise testing is aimed at evaluating heart function for a variety of reasons, most often to check for coronary artery disease. There are different types of test, including treadmill testing and stress echocardiography.
Hypertension can cause such conditions as blood vessel changes in the retina (at the back of the eye), abnormal thickening of the heart muscle, kidney failure, and brain damage. Regular blood pressure checks help with diagnosis. In most cases, no specific cause is found. Hypertension is treated with regular aerobic exercise, weight reduction for those overweight, salt restriction, and medications to control blood pressure.
Heart Care & Support Groups
The Heart Foundation is a key charity supporting those living with heart disease or heart health concerns. Regionally there are a number of local support programmes often run by the local District Health Board.