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For certain heart conditions, interventional cardiology may present a lower-risk alternative to invasive surgical procedures for some heart conditions. Doctors insert catheters and wires through arteries in a patient's wrist or groin, then use X-ray guidance to move them into the heart. They can then fix a variety of issues, from blockages in coronary arteries to holes in the heart wall.
There are a variety of cardiovascular conditions that can be treated this way. The most common ones include heart attacks, severe chest pain (angina) related to coronary heart disease, and other conditions that might affect a person’s quality of life. It can also be used to treat or replace problematic heart valves, prevent stroke, fix aneurysms, and even insert pacemakers.
During an angioplasty, doctors use a catheter with a small balloon at its tip. Once the catheter has been guided to the proper place in the heart, the balloon is filled with air. This presses the plaque against the wall of the artery to improve blood flow. In some cases, a catheter may be used to remove a blood clot. Crozer Health has performed more than 5,000 of these procedures since 1992.
Using catheterization, arteries are reopened by inflating a tiny balloon at the site of the blockage (“angioplasty”). Sometimes a stent, which is shaped like a tiny tube, is inserted to maintain the passageway.
Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) Repair
Rotational atherectomy is occasionally used to open a blocked coronary artery in patients who have heavily calcified plaque. After a catheter has been guided to the narrow section of an artery, a high-speed instrument is used to cut through the plaque.
Radiofrequency Catheter Ablation
Radiofrequency catheter ablation uses radio waves sent through a catheter to the heart muscle to permanently block the abnormal pathway that electrical signals in the heart may follow.
Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)
TAVR involves the replacement of a diseased or malfunctioning aortic heart valve through a very small incision that is nearly invisible. It is used to treat patients with a specific condition called aortic stenosis—a progressive, life-threatening disease that causes a narrowing of the aortic valve. Most common in middle-age and elderly patients, this narrowing reduces the flow of blood out of the heart and throughout the rest of the body. The only way to fix the problem is to replace the faulty valve. Learn more about TAVR.
When is Interventional Cardiology Preferable to Surgery?
Interventional cardiology is often the preferred method for treating certain heart attacks because it is quyickand effective. When a heart attack happens because of a blockage in an artery, for example, balloon angioplasty might be performed to restore normal blood flow.
It’s also often more desirable than open-heart surgery because general anesthesia is not usually required, and patients don't need to spend multiple days in the hospital. Risks are reasonably low and patients can typically leave the next day.
In addition, interventional cardiology is a great option for patients who are considered too “high risk” for surgery. That can occur when a patient's age is a concern, or if they have an illness that would put them at increased risk during surgery.
Patients who receive heart therapy thgrough interventional cardiology are at a lower risk of infection, and can \avoid unpleasant pain and scars that result from surgery.
To learn more about interventional cardiology, be sure to speak with your doctor to see if this is the best approach for you.
Schedule an Appointment
To learn more about interventional cardiology or request an appointment, please call 1-866-95-PULSE (1-866-957-8573) or request an appointment online.
From the Heart: Gary
Gary Fairchild from Wallingford, Pa. had a completely blocked artery and suffered a heart attack. Thanks to interventional cardiologist Muhammad Raza, M.D. he's here to talk about it today.