Cardiovascular technologists and technicians assist physicians in diagnosing and treating cardiac (heart) and vascular (blood) ailments. Technologists may specialize in one of the following areas: invasive cardiology, echocardiography and vascular technology.
Echocardiograph technicians perform non-invasive tests using ultrasound equipment. This procedure sends sound waves into the patient's body and processes echoes of the sound waves to form an image of the heart. The technologists record the image for review and diagnosis by a physician.
Vascular technicians assist physicians with the diagnosis of circulation disorders. They use ultrasound equipment to record vascular blood flow, blood pressure, limb volume changes, and oxygen saturation. These tests are generally performed during or immediately after surgery.
Invasive cardiovascular technicians assist physicians with cardiac catheterization procedures in which a small tube or catheter is wound through a patient's blood vessel from a spot on the patient's leg into the heart. The procedure can determine if a blockage exists in the blood vessels that supply the heart muscle. Part of the procedure may involve balloon angioplasty, which can be used to treat blockages of blood vessels or heart valves, without the need for heart surgery.
Completion of an associate of arts degree from a two-year community college program for technologists. Voluntary technologist certification is available through Cardiovascular Credentialing International or the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers. Completion of a one-year certificate-training program (is preferred by some employers), or on the job training for EKG technicians.
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