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Cardiac imaging is a subspecialty of diagnostic radiology. A cardiac radiologist supervises or performs and then interprets medical images to diagnose diseases of the heart such as heart disease, leaky heart valves and defects in the size and shape of the heart.

Why do you need to see them?

If your doctor suspects you have heart disease, or wants to monitor a condition that has already been diagnosed, they may order an imaging test to evaluate your heart’s anatomy and function. Imaging tests can help doctors diagnose problems with the heart, check for damage after a heart attack, or monitor conditions such as cardiomyopathy or coronary artery disease.

What do they do?

Cardiac imaging specialists provide diagnostic, evaluative, and therapeutic imaging of the heart. Different imaging tests that use sophisticated approaches can help with a variety of problems, ranging from chest pain and valvular heart disease to cardiac tumours and heart device infections. For example, an echocardiogram is a common test that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of the heart’s chambers, valves, walls, and blood vessels.

In cardiac nuclear medicine, radioactive materials are injected into the patient (depending on the type of exam). These materials travel to the area of the body being examined and emit radiation. This radiation provides a picture that helps the doctor evaluate for coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathy, among other things.

What else should you know?

Today, cardiac imaging is a broad field. You may need to find a specialist within it that has very specific training. The appropriate imaging subspecialist can help determine whether one prescribed test might be used in combination with another to provide better information. Or an imaging specialist may provide imaging during surgical treatment—MRI and CT scans are commonly used to guide surgeons in some heart procedures, which makes the surgeon’s work more precise and less invasive, resulting in quicker recoveries for patients.

Physician consultation is a good opportunity and you should be prepared for it.

  • Carry all necessary medical records for the discussion. It helps in better understanding your heart condition and avoids repetition of diagnostic tests.
  • Make sure you discuss your past medical history, surgical history, family history, and medications that you are taking.
  • Discuss about your lifestyle habits, dietary habits and also about your profession. Your lifestyle and nature of job may be associated with the risk for cardiac diseases.
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