Interventional cardiology is the branch of cardiology that involves catheter-based treatments. Some treatment techniques employed by interventional cardiology include:
- Carotid Stents. Carotid stents are tiny tubes placed in the carotid arteries of the neck if they become blocked by plaque (a condition called carotid artery stenosis). These arteries supply blood to the brain, so carotid artery stenosis treatment is essential to preventing stroke.
- Balloon Angioplasty. A tiny balloon is inserted into the blocked artery, inflated, and then removed to expand the space. This allows for increased blood flow.
- Intracoronary Stenting. After a balloon angioplasty, a tiny stent (tube) is placed permanently into the artery to keep the new space open. Some stents release medication directly into the bloodstream.
- Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators, or ICDs. These devices use electrical pulses to control an irregular heartbeat, which can save a patient’s life. They are implanted through a small incision near the shoulder.
- Pacemakers. Pacemakers use electrical pulses to regulate the heart’s pumping, which allows for patients with an abnormally slow heartbeat (or patients at risk of a major cardiac event) to lead normal lives.
- Congenital Heart Defect Correction. This treatment can be used to correct congenital defects (defects a person was born with) in the walls between the atria and ventricles or if the patient has a defect called patent ductus arteriosis wherein the aorta and pulmonary artery are joined.
Interventional cardiology procedures are often used to treat conditions like atherosclerosis or to reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke in high-risk patients. Exercise and following a healthy diet rich in whole fruits and vegetables an dlow in saturated fat can help reduce one’s risk, but risk of heart disease is not always eliminated. Regular checkups with a cardiologist are important for good heart health in patients with heart disease or a family history of heart problems.
Interventional cardiology procedures are often minimally invasive, meaning that they are performed through very small incisions and patient recovery time is often quite brief. For treatments involving the insertion of a catheter or stent, the incision is usually made in the femoral artery of the leg and guided up toward the heart using a real-time x-ray. Additionally, many interventional cardiology Panama City FL procedures require only a local anesthetic rather than general anesthesia. Patients also tend to experience less pain during recovery and have a decreased risk of infection, an invaluable benefit in older patients with weaker immune systems.