Cardiologist Vs. Vascular Surgeon

Cardiologists and vascular surgeons are medical experts who identify and treat different medical issues using different methods. This article looks at some of the distinctions between these professions, as well as some similar duties.

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Comparing Cardiologists to Vascular Surgeons

Cardiologists are medical specialists who are qualified to diagnose heart or cardiovascular system issues and may also be qualified to perform some treatments. Vascular surgeons operate on patients and can work on any part of the human body except the cardiovascular system or brain. Although the level of training is comparable for these careers vascular surgeons earn a notably higher salary.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2018)* Job Outlook (2016-2026)**
Cardiologists Medical degree, residency, license, fellowship $244,377 17% (internists, general)
Vascular Surgeons Medical degree, residency, license, fellowship $335,648 17% (surgeons)

Sources: *PayScale; **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Cardiologists vs. Vascular Surgeons

Cardiologists may focus on performing medical tests on patients to provide them with a diagnosis, although some cardiologists are also qualified to perform procedures to treat heart and cardiovascular issues. Cardiologists are not qualified to operate on a patient but operating on patients is a primary task for vascular surgeons. Both of these medical experts will assess patients and determine which type of treatment is needed. They may both provide ongoing care to patients and advise them on how to manage their condition through lifestyle changes. Both may also be responsible for referring patients to other medical professionals, such as cardiovascular surgeons and therapists.


Cardiologists provide treatments for health issues involving the heart. They also treat issues with the cardiovascular system. Cardiologists may qualify to become non-invasive cardiologists but with additional training they can work as an invasive non-interventional cardiologist, an interventional cardiologist or an electrophysiologist. They typically work in medical offices and labs or hospitals, depending on which type of cardiologist they are. They need to pay attention to detail in order to effectively diagnose and treat patients.

Job responsibilities of a cardiologist include:

  • Conducting stress tests on patients
  • Producing images of a patient's heart
  • Clearing blocked arteries
  • Performing ablations
  • Referring patients to other specialists

Vascular Surgeons

Vascular surgeons are surgeons who specialize in treating issues related to blood flow throughout the body, excluding the heart, brain and lungs. Since their primary work involves operating on patients they work in hospitals. Long hours are common for surgeons and they may work evenings and weekends. They need to have excellent fine motor skills in order to make precise incisions when operating on patients. They also need good problem-solving skills to determine which issues are affecting a patient.

Job responsibilities of a vascular surgeon include:

  • Assessing patients
  • Performing tests such as angiographies
  • Inserting shunts in patients
  • Educating patients on managing their condition through diet and exercise
  • Correcting blockages in arteries

Related Careers

Individuals considering a future as a cardiologist may also be interested in becoming an oncologist because oncologists also treat patients. Aspiring vascular surgeons may also be interested in a career as a transplant surgeon since both professions involve operating on patients.

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