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Cardiovascular technologists assist doctors with both invasive and noninvasive procedures that involve the cardiovascular system, including the heart and blood vessels. Different types of cardiovascular technologist jobs include vascular technologists, echocardiographers and electrocardiograph technicians. Each of these kinds of cardiovascular technologist jobs focus on utilizing a specific device in the hospital or on having advanced knowledge of a specific medical instrument or equipment.
Specifically, vascular technologists help physicians in the diagnosis of patients with circulatory disorders. Vascular technologists order the appropriate vascular tests by evaluating a patient's medical history and listening for abnormalities in a patient's vascular blood flow during an exam. Then, they use ultrasound equipment to complete the vascular test, usually during or after surgery. The vascular test often measures a patient's vascular blood flow, blood pressure, oxygen saturation, peripheral circulation, cerebral circulation and abdominal circulation. Vascular technologists then summarize these findings and present them to the physician in order to assist with the diagnosis.
Echocardiographers are cardiovascular technologist jobs that use ultrasound instruments to perform echocardiograms, which use sound waves to create images of the heart chambers, valves and blood vessels. These trained sonographers perform echocardiogram tests on either resting or physically active patients by placing an instrument called a transducer on the patient's ribs near the breastbone and toward the heart. This instrument picks up the echo of sound waves, and then the echocardiography machine develops a moving picture of the heart. This type of test is used to help doctors diagnose, treat and evaluate patients who have heart murmurs, abnormal heart valves, congenital heart disease or pulmonary hypertension.
Electrocardiograph (EKG or ECG) technicians specialize in performing electrocardiography on heart patients. EKG technicians work in emergency rooms, physician's offices or cardiology clinics, and they conduct electrocardiograph tests on patients who have experienced chest pains or other symptoms of cardiac problems. These technicians are also responsible for proper maintenance of the EKG machine to ensure that it is running effectively and that its test results are accurate. Some EKG technicians might also be responsible for explaining the EKG procedure to patients and for assisting with subsequent stress tests on cardiac patients.
Most cardiovascular technologist jobs require a two-year associate's degree from an accredited junior or community college as well as relevant on-the-job training via an internship. For example, most EKG technicians receive hands-on training from an EKG supervisor or cardiologist prior to becoming qualified to work professionally in the field. The wages for cardiovascular technologist jobs vary greatly depending on whether an individual is practicing in a private physician's office or in a hospital setting, with cardiovascular technologists who work in the private setting usually earning more money.
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