Did you know the heart determined your place in the afterlife? At least it did to the ancient Egyptians. A person’s soul, represented by their heart, was weighed against the feather of Truth. If it weighed less, the soul went to Paradise. If it weighed more, the heart was devoured. 

While the heart doesn’t play the same role in most people’s spiritual worlds, it is vital to people’s lives as the organ that pump’s life-sustaining blood around one’s body. We’ll be covering the medical specialty — the Cardiology Department — that deals with the heart, from its importance in healthcare, the various specialists, to which medical computers best support this vital field. 

What is Cardiology? 

The cardiovascular system consists of the heart and blood vessels. It is also known as the  circulatory system. 

A cardiovascular specialist is a physician who focuses on issues with the circulatory system. The most well-known is cardiology, a specialty of Internal Medicine. Cardiology is a branch that deals with disorders of the heart and the cardiovascular system. Some of these disorders include: 

  • congenital heart defects 
  • coronary artery disease 
  • heart failure 
  • valvular heart disease 
  • electrophysiology

Heart Disease’s Long and Lethal Timeline

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 17.9 million people died in 2016.  Of these, 85 percent resulted from a heart attack or stroke. By 2030, that figure is expected to climb to 23.6 million.

CVD is also the leading cause of death in the United States. It’s followed by cancer and COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 in every 4 deaths, or 659,000 people, die each year from heart disease. 

Other heart-stopping figures: 

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most ethnic groups in the country.
  • One person dies every 34 seconds in the US from a CVD.
  • Heart disease cost the American industry about $229 billion each year from 2017 to 2018. This includes healthcare service expenses, medications, and lost productivity.

An Old Disease

The earliest documented case of coronary atherosclerosis, or plaque in the arteries, was in an Egyptian princess. Her mummy showed she lived between 1580 and 1550 B.C. and died in her early 40s. Other mummies studied at the time revealed almost half had evidence of atherosclerosis in one or more of their arteries.

“Commonly, we think of coronary artery or heart disease as a consequence of modern lifestyles, mainly because it has increased in developing countries as they become more westernized,” said Dr. Gregory S. Thomas, a clinical professor and the director of Nuclear Cardiology Education at UCI, California. “These data point to a missing link in our understanding of heart disease, and we may not be so different from our ancient ancestors.” 

Who are the Heart Specialists?

Patients with CVD will usually deal with two specialists. 

Cardiologist

A cardiologist is the medical specialist trained in the diagnosing and treating diseases of the cardiovascular system. They do it through blood tests, cardiac stress tests, echocardiography or electrocardiography, computed tomography, and magnetic resonance imaging techniques. Cardiologists can pursue even more specialization: 

  • Clinical cardiologist.
  • Heart failure specialist.
  • Interventional cardiologist.
  • Cardio-oncologist.
  • Congenital heart specialist.
  • Cardiac imaging specialist.
  • Peripheral interventional cardiologist.
  • Preventive cardiologist.
  • Cardiac rehabilitation specialist.
  • Electrophysiologist.
  • Geriatric cardiologist.

Cardiac Surgeon

Cardiologists are trained to perform some minimally invasive surgical procedures. Examples include heart catheterizations, angioplasty, or inserting a pacemaker. 

However, full surgical aspects are not included in cardiology. That is the specialty of a cardiothoracic surgeon. This subspecialty of surgery opens the chest and performs heart surgery. Procedures they perform include coronary artery bypass surgery, cardiopulmonary bypass, and valve replacement. 

Notable Figures

CVD, as pointed above, has been around for thousands of years. Great strides have been made against it especially in modern times. Some of the more noteworthy individuals in the field and their works include:

1628 English physician William Harvey is the first to describe the circulation of blood in a body.

1706 French anatomy professor Raymond de Vieussens lays out the structure of the heart’s chambers and vessels.

1733 Blood pressure is the first measured by an English clergyman and scientist Stephen Hales.

1816 French physician Rene Laennec invents the stethoscope.

1903 The electrocardiograph or ECG is developed by Dutch physiologist Willem Einthoven. 

1938 American surgeon Robert Gross performs the first heart surgery.

1967 South African surgeon Christian Barnard performs the first whole heart transplant.

1982 American surgeon Willem DeVries implants a permanent artificial heart into a patient.

Cardiologist’s Workplace

Cardiologists can be found in a variety of healthcare settings. In medical offices, the typical clinical cardiologist performs tasks as:

  • Giving physical exam
  • Ordering and interpreting tests like an ECG, exercise stress test, or echocardiogram
  • Prescribing medication
  • Providing lifestyle changes on diet, weight, stress, and physical activity
  • Counseling on risks and prevention
  • Procedures like cardiac catheterization or the implantation of a cardiac electronic device like a pacemaker
  • Referring patients as needed to a cardiac surgeon or other cardiovascular specialist

Cardiologists working in hospitals see their own patients or acting as consultants for other providers. They will definitely be found in any cardiac care unit (CCU, CICU). This ward, which is not found in all hospitals, specializes in the care of patients with heart-related problems like an AMI, cardiomyopathy, and arrhythmias. 

The main feature of the CCU is the availability of continuous ECG. This allows medical staff to react swiftly and appropriately if a patient suddenly suffers a severe heart ailment. Also patients in the ward frequently need specialized testing like bloodwork, electrocardiograms, echocardiograms, and chest X-rays.

Cardiologists may also be found teaching in universities and doing research.

Tools of the Cardiologist

Several medical devices are used in cardiology. Besides the well-known stethoscope and blood pressure cuff, cardiologists use: 

  • Cardiac catheterization
  • Various types of balloons
  • Defibrillators
  • Chest X-ray
  • Cardiac MRI
  • Cardiac CT
  • Coronary angiogram
  • Electrocardiogram
  • Echocardiogram
  • Holter monitor

Cardiology Department Computers

Computers are used in cardiology to bring up patient electronic medical records and to display monitoring software. The cardiology department uses medical computers versus off-the-shelf brands as they have features like:

  • Medical Grade – the medical computer has been officially tested and 60601-1 certified that it is safe to operate near patients. It will not interfere through electromagnetic and radiation emissions any patient’s medical devices like a heart rate monitor. 
  • High Resolution Medical Monitorsmedical grade monitors offer high-definition clarity ranging from 3840×2160 8MP to 1920×1080. These resolutions are extremely useful when evaluating patient conditions from blocked blood vessels to open heart surgery. The 16:9 “widescreen” aspect ratio provides plenty of screen space to view multiple applications at once, while optional anti-glare technology allows crisp viewing even under the direct lighting found in many operating theaters.
  • Antibacterial / Fanless / IP65 – Sterile conditions are important in all hospitals. They’re  even more so in the Cardiac Care Unit, where critically ill patients with heart issues are cared for. There, medical computers with fanless design keep cool without taking in and blowing out airborne pathogens. An antibacterial casing stops bacteria from growing on their surfaces, while being IP65 rated means they’re sealed from liquids like hospital grade cleaning sprays. 

Closing Thoughts

Cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks are the leading cause of death globally. In medicine, many cardiovascular specialists like cardiologists are fighting these diseases. If you’re looking into which medical computers are best for this vital speciality, contact a representative from Cybernet. 

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