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Cardiologists are the medical professionals who specialise in disorders affecting the human heart and its surrounding vessels. Cardiologists work in hospitals, laboratories and clinics. They do not perform surgical procedures themselves; their role is to intervene during the early stages of a patient complaint and ensure that a patient does not need to resort to heart surgery. They monitor blood pressure, cholesterol levels and weight, and advise patients on the best ways to avoid serious heart problems.
Heart disease is the most common cause of death in the UK with around 200,000 cases per year, and there are a number of diseases and conditions which can affect the heart, including arrhythmia, coronary artery disease, angina, cardiac arrest, ventricular hypertrophy and high blood pressure.
As with all medical professionals, the primary responsibility is to identify, diagnose and treat problems experienced by patients through a variety of examinations, tests, medical procedures and prescription of medication. It is also their job to ensure that the patient is fully aware of courses of treatment and procedures available to them so that they can play a role in, and have some control over, the care they receive.
With further training, cardiologists can go on to become cardiac surgeons, experts in certain specialisms within cardiology or pathologists.