Cardiology as a science is concerned with the quality of the heart operation, as seen in the physical body. Since heart and vascular disease are still cause of death #1 in the world (some 16,7 million people globally each year), and in a country such as The Netherlands nearly one third of all people are confronted with such symptoms sooner or later, Cardiology is an important and extremely well-developed discipline.
Problems with the heart can manifest in many different forms. Most cardiology curriculums discuss over 35 kinds of heart problems. In general, often-seen symptoms involve the narrowing of arteries near the heart, or a dysfunction in the heart’s rhythm. This can lead to a host of disorders such as high blood pressure, angina pectoris (chest pain), and heart failures. Arrhythmia do not always lead to severe symptoms, but if the dysfunction is severe enough to seriously hinder the pumping function, this too can lead to death.
Treatments of heart problems can be clustered in three categories:
- Medical surgery (e.g., Angioplasty, heart valve replacement, artery detours)
- Farmaca (to ease high blood pressure; to balance the heart rhythm; to increase heart contraction; and anti-angineous medicine)
- Devices, both in- and outside the body: e.g., the pacemaker and defibrillator. In the midst of operations, there are also devices such as artificial circulation pumps that can temporarily facilitate the heart function of the patient.