Interventional Cardiology 101

Interventional Cardiologists have worked through traditional cardiology training, including additional two years of specialized education in the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease.

This training is called interventional cardiology and includes repair of structural and congenital heart conditions. Interventional cardiologists learn to treat heart disease and conditions. They learn how to perform procedures centering on the cardiac catheter. These methods are considered non-invasive. Stenting and angioplasty are two examples of catheter-based cardiac procedures.

There are seven primary interventional cardiology procedures. If you are interested in learning more about this branch of specialized cardiology, you may find an informative website with specific cardiac conditions and procedures.

Cardiac Catheterization 

A cardiologist uses this procedure to determine the extent and severity of your cardiac problems. The catheter inserts into a small incision in your arm or groin. The doctor then guides the catheter into a blood vessel, and through the vessel to the heart. The doctor can identify the following conditions during this procedure:

  • Finding the location and size of deposits of plaque
  • Determining the strength of your valves and your heart muscle
  • Collecting samples of blood
  • Read your blood pressure
  • Injecting dyes into your arteries to watch and analyze blood flow on x-rays
  • Angioplasty

Cardiologists use this procedure to open arteries your which have been narrowed by atherosclerosis. The doctor does the same thing as in the cardiac catheterization, but a balloon attaches at the end of the catheter. The balloon inflates when it reaches the blocked or restricted area. The balloon moves the plaque and widens the restricted artery for improved blood flow.

Stents

Seventy percent of angioplasty procedures require the use of stents. A stent is a small metal cylinder which gets inserted into a blood vessel permanently. The stent sets over the balloon and pops open when the doctor inflates the balloon in a blood vessel during the angioplasty. The stent reinforces the artery walls, and it takes a few weeks for artery tissue to grow over the stent.

Two Kinds of Stents 

  • Drug-eluting stents have been coated with medicine before placement in the artery. The drug helps prevent the artery from re-narrowing, and it helps prevent scars from forming.
  • Bare metal stents are untreated metal cylinders.

Embolic Protection

It is possible for plaque to become loose and float around your bloodstream when an interventional procedure is taking place. Doctors will use embolic protection devices called filters, to trap these particles. If they are not trapped, they can increase the risk of stroke or injury.

Percutaneous Valve Repair

Your heart contains four valves which are responsible for controlling the way blood flows through the chambers of your heart.

If a valve is damaged, an interventional cardiologist may decide to guide a catheter with devices or clips through the blood vessels to the damaged valve. Blood will flow properly when the doctor uses the clips or devices to do valve repair.

Balloon Valvuloplasty or Balloon Valvotomy

Narrow or constricted heart valves that do not open properly benefit from repair with a balloon valvuloplasty. What happens during this procedure is that a balloon on the end of a catheter inflates which stretches the valve open.

Atherectomy

Removing plaque from your artery wall is the purpose of an atherectomy. The doctor performs this procedure in one of two ways.

  • A rotary shaver called a burr, is put on the tip of a catheter, and sent to the area plaque. The doctor then uses the shaver to remove the build up of the plaque.
  • Depending on the situation, a physician may decide to use a laser catheter to vaporize plaque buildups.

In Conclusion

If you want more information, there are many excellent resources available online, including the history of interventional cardiology.

These resources may include discussion of procedures, case studies, and resources.

Your doctor uses these Interventions for many conditions including

  • Coronary Disease
  • Valvular Disease
  • Heart Failure
  • Peripheral issues
  • Hypertension
  • Stroke

You can gather more information, news and videos about interventional cardiology at PCRonline.