Cardiovascular Specialists and Your Health Care  
 Cardiology, or the discipline of medicine that specializes in heart   disease, is a complex and sophisticated field. Generally, three types of    cardiology specialists care for your heart. A cardiologist has special training and skill in finding, treating, and   preventing diseases of the heart and blood vessels in adults.
After 5 1/2 years of medical school, these highly-trained  doctors spend from six to eight more years in specialized   training. A cardiologist receives three years of training in   internal medicine and three or more years in specialized   cardiology training. A pediatric cardiologist receives three   years of training in pediatrics, and three or more years in  specialized pediatric diology training. A cardiac surgeon  must complete three years of training in general surgery before  starting a two-or three-year cardiothoracic training program.   Some cardiac surgeons have additional training to perform  pediatric or transplant surgery.
At each stage of their training, these specialists must pass rigorous   exams that test their knowledge and judgment, as well as their ability   to provide superior care.  Cardiologists, pediatric cardiologists, and cardiac surgeons must first  become board-certified in their primary specialty (internal medicine,  pediatrics, and surgery respectively), and then certified in their subspecialty (cardiology, pediatric cardiology, and cardiothoracic  surgery respectively). 
Membership in the American College of Cardiology  
If your cardiology specialist adds F.A.C.C. - Fellow of the American College of Cardiology - to his or her name, it is a  sign of significant accomplishment and commitment to a  profession, to a specialty, and to the provision of the best   health care for the patient. Election to ACC membership is based on training, specialty board certification, scientific and professional  accomplishments, length of active participation in a  cardiovascular-related field, and peer recognition. Members   are expected to conform to high moral and ethical standards.
Referral to a Cardiologist  
Any time you have a significant heart or related condition, you may  require the attention of a cardiologist. Symptoms like shortness of  breath, chest pains, or dizzy spells often require special testing. Heart   murmurs or ECG changes are best evaluated by a cardiologist. Most   importantly, cardiologists treat heart attacks, heart failure, and serious  heart rhythm disturbances. Their skills and training are required for  decisions about heart catheterization, balloon angioplasty, heart   surgery, and other procedures. 
The Cardiologist and your Primary Care Physician  
The cardiologist usually serves as a consultant to other doctors,   although many provide general medical care for their patients. Your   primary care physician may recommend a cardiologist or you may   choose one yourself. As your cardiac care proceeds, your cardiologist   will guide your care and plan tests and treatment with the doctors and   nurses who are looking after you. 
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