Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Helping the Heart: Cardiovascular Technology and Cardiac Sonography
"Wherever you go, go with all your heart." These words were spoken by the Chinese philosopher, Confucius, twenty-five hundred years ago, but they remain today as true as ever. But the heart is so much more than the metaphor for the individual's emotional life. As we have come to understand the science of the body, this muscular organ at the centre of the circulatory system has been given great significance in the healthcare industry.
You don't have to become a doctor to specialize in helping others have healthy hearts. There are many qualified assistant careers that are taught that can put you in a position to work with doctors in treating various conditions of the heart, for example, the cardiovascular technologist and cardiac sonographer.
Cardiovascular technology is an assistant to physicians dealing with diagnosis and treatment of cardiac and peripheral vascular problems. In order to become a cardiovascular technologist, one has to complete a two-year program that has accredited status (for example, by the Canadian Medical Association). These programs prepare the future professional to perform a variety of tests, such as:
Electrocardiography traces impulses from the heart with electrodes.
Holter ambulatory monitoring observes electrical activity of the cardiovascular system over extended periods of time.
Exercise training, for example stress tests conducted on a treadmill for blood pressure information.
Pacemaker follow-up involves regular checkups of the functioning of an internal electrical heart regulator.
Ambulatory BP monitoring involves the intermittent monitoring of blood pressure.
After completing these various health courses, many graduates continue their education to get training in diagnostic cardiac sonography. Also known as an echo-cardiographer, or cardiac ultrasound technologist, these specialists use ultrasound to examine and monitor the heart and its various components and functions, for example blood flow, valve and muscle functions, and chamber sizes. While cardiac sonographers are not responsible for making diagnoses and deciding upon treatments themselves, they work closely with the doctors to whom they present their findings and results to make further analyses and treat the patients.
Pursuing health and technology training in these fields is hard work but with rewarding results. Programs for cardio-medical assistants take the student through thorough theoretical education and clinical practice. They give the student extensive laboratory experience, with simulated and real situations using state-of-the-art equipment. An excellent cardio program should also offer the student real clinical training with affiliated clinical agencies.