What Is a Cardiologist?

Cardiology care at Columbia Memorial Hospital, Astoria, OregonIf your primary care physician thinks you could have a problem with your heart or its blood vessels, he or she may refer you to a cardiologist. These specialists diagnose and treat all types of heart disease and heart-related conditions.

For instance, people see cardiologists for things such as heart failure and serious heart rhythm problems. These doctors also treat coronary artery disease, congenital heart defects and heart attack. Symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath or dizzy spells may call for a visit to a cardiologist.

Cardiologists are not surgeons. However, they do perform procedures that require small incisions, such as angioplasty to open a blocked artery in the heart or cardiac catheterization to diagnose and treat certain heart conditions. Some cardiologists also insert pacemakers.

Cardiologists work alone or in group practices. They may do research in addition to treating patients.


Cardiologists train for at least 10 years after college. That includes four years of medical school and three more in general internal medicine. Then, for another three to five years, they study conditions specific to the heart, blood vessels and blood circulation.

Learn about the cardiologists who are part of the CMH/OHSU Cardiology Clinic team.

Sources: American College of Physicians; American Heart Association

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