Cardiovascular pathologists are physician scientists who test, diagnose, and study cardiovascular disease on the molecular level. These physicians are central to determining why disease starts, what makes it worse, and how it can be treated. Cardiovascular, thoracic, and vascular conditions can be caused by birth defects, the aging process, medications, toxins, cancer, and structural or traumatic deficiencies. These physicians use powerful microscopes and scientific testing methods to look into heart tissue and cells. They are often involved in:
• Evaluating tissue removed in surgery to determine why it has become diseased.
• Determining which disease process caused a specific type of cardiovascular damage.
• Determining whether or not a patient’s body is accepting a transplanted heart and suggesting appropriate treatment to reverse rejection.
• Studying the body’s reaction to implanted artificial devices (i.e., stents, valves, blood vessel grafts, heart assist devices, and artificial hearts) to determine their potential safety or effectiveness.
• Participating in research studies to improve current therapies or the innovation of new therapies that are related to cardiovascular disease.
A Team Approach
Cardiovascular pathologists work in a laboratory, but they are a vital part of the cardiovascular care team.
After earning a bachelor’s degree, pathologists spend four years in medical school and another four years training in pathology. Those who specialize in cardiovascular pathology often spend another 1 to 2 years learning and training in this specialization.
Texas Heart Institute www.texasheartinstitute.com/HIC/Topics/FAQ/wicvpath.cfm