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Cardiovascular treatments

Overview of cardiovascular treatments

If you have heart disease, many treatments can help restore your heart’s function and ease symptoms. From minimally invasive procedures to open heart surgery, there are a wide range of cardiovascular treatments that our doctors at Dignity Health use to diagnose and treat heart and blood vessel conditions.

Your doctor can recommend cardiovascular treatments to correct many different heart conditions, reduce symptoms, and improve your quality of life.

Why it’s necessary

Cardiovascular treatments are for conditions affecting the heart and circulatory system.

Common symptoms include:

  • Pain, tightness, or pressure in the chest
  • Pain or discomfort that radiates down the arm, left shoulder, elbows, jaw, or back
  • Feeling out of breath at rest, or short of breath all the time
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting
  • Irregular heartbeat or feeling like your heart is “fluttering” in your chest
  • Cold sweats
  • General feeling of unease
  • Swelling of the feet, ankles, or legs
  • Blue-tinted skin (also called cyanosis), especially in the lips, fingernails, and other extremities
  • Leg pain, especially when walking
  • Poor circulation in the feet
  • Rapid breathing

If you think you or someone close to you may be having a heart attack, call 911 right away. Along with chest pain, heart attack symptoms can include:

  • Cold sweats
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Feeling of malaise or impending doom
  • Pain in the arms, chest, shoulders, back, neck, or jaw

If you do experience a heart attack, the faster you can get medical care, the better. There is a saying that “time is heart muscle,” which means the sooner you receive treatment, the less likely there will be damage.

If you notice other common cardiovascular symptoms, such as feeling short of breath at rest, a fluttering heartbeat, or swelling in your feet, you should also call your doctor to see whether you need treatment or evaluation for a possible heart condition.


Dignity Health cardiologists perform many diagnostic tests to identify heart conditions. During an evaluation, your cardiologist will review your medical history, perform a physical exam, and order tests.

Some of the most common cardiovascular tests include:

  • Blood tests to check levels of cholesterol and other fats, blood sugar, and markers of a heart attack
  • Chest x-ray, which creates a still picture of your heart
  • EKG to show the rate and rhythm of your heartbeat
  • Echocardiogram to create images of your moving heart and valves as your heart beats
  • Stress testing to show whether your heart can tolerate increased work/demand
  • Cardiac catheterization, which uses x-rays to look inside your heart and coronary arteries

Depending on your symptoms, your cardiologist may use one or more tests to get a better understanding of the cause.

The information contained in this article is meant for educational purposes only and should not replace advice from your healthcare provider.


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