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Interventional Cardiology – Explained

Interventional Cardiology is a unique area of medicine in cardiology that uses catheter-based treatment of heart diseases. Interventional cardiology uses imaging and other diagnostic techniques to measure blood flow and pressure in the coronary arteries and chambers of the heart. 

It also uses technical procedures and medications to treat abnormalities that impair the function of the cardiovascular system. As a discipline, it covers diagnosis and treatment of coronary artery diseases, acquired structural heart disease and vascular diseases.

Difference between Cardiologist and Interventional Cardiologist

An interventional cardiologist has an additional one or two years of specialist training and education in the study of cardiovascular diseases (CVD), congenital and structural heart conditions using catheter-based procedures, like angioplasty and stenting.

What is the difference between invasive and interventional cardiology?

Many patients want to understand the difference between interventional cardiology and invasive cardiology. Experts from AMRI Hospitals explain, “Interventional cardiology is often seen as an invasive technique. However, it doesn’t require surgery. The only requirement is the insertion of a catheter, a small flexible tube, inside the body to repair damaged or weakened blood vessels, narrowed arteries or other parts of the structure.”

Interventional cardiology is vital to treat certain symptoms or conditions like hardened veins, valve obstructions, and oxygen supply problems. These procedures are most commonly used to treat heart conditions like coronary artery disease, heart valve disease, and peripheral vascular diseases. 

Invasive cardiology, on the other hand, involves surgeries like open heart or minimally invasive surgical procedures to treat heart conditions and abnormalities. Some other cardiological procedures don’t use any needles, fluids or invasive techniques and are called non-invasive cardiology procedures.

How interventional cardiology works?

A majority of these procedures are carried out in the cardiovascular system, comprising the heart, veins and arteries. Since there is no need for large incisions or instruments, the procedure can be called minimally invasive. Typically the procedures are conducted around an insertion through a hole of around an inch and the cardiologist inserts a catheter through the groin into the femoral artery. The catheter is guided towards the vascular and heart area, using real-time X-rays. 

Interventional Cardiology Procedures

Some of the most commonly used interventional cardiology procedures include cardiac catheterization, percutaneous coronary intervention, balloon angioplasty, stent implantation, emergency procedures such as hypothermia, and intra-aortic balloon pump.

Pediatric interventional cardiologists focus mainly on congenital heart defects as a major area of focus for diagnosis and treatment.

Cardiac Catheterization

This procedure helps test the presence, size, and location of plaque in the arteries, the strength of the heart muscle and the heart valves’ function. Contrast dye is used to trace the movement of the blood through the arteries. 

Congenital heart defect correction

Percutaneous methods are also used to correct atrial septal and ventricular septal defects, or closure of a patient’s ductus arteriosus.

Angioplasty and Stenting

A slender tube is inserted through the groin or wrist into a blood vessel and guided to the heart or other areas. The doctor then injects a dye through arteries, while the stenting procedure is going on. The balloon at the tip of the catheter inflates to stretch your arteries open and increase blood supply to the  heart. A stent(small metal mesh cylinder) is then inserted into your vessel to keep it open.

Atherectomy

Atherectomy is performed to remove plaque from an artery or blood vessel. The procedure utilizes a catheter with a sharp blade on the end to remove plaque from blood vessels. The catheter is designed such that it can recollect the removed plaque in a chamber in the tip. Sometimes a laser catheter is used to vaporize the plaque.

Embolic Protection

Often, if narrowing exists in carotid arteries or a bypass graft, cardiologists use specialized devices such as filters to prevent the plaque from breaking off and travelling to the blood. This is known as embolic protection. 

Percutaneous Valve Procedures

Many of the valve procedures are now performed without surgery, using interventional cardiology. Percutaneous valve procedures offer an alternative to conventional surgical options. They are especially useful in cases when patients can’t undergo surgery or those who have had surgery that has failed.

Balloon Angioplasty

Balloon angioplasty is an interventional cardiac procedure that opens narrowed arteries. The balloon is inflated at the blockage site to flatten or compress the plaque. These are some of the most commonly used procedures performed within interventional cardiology.

Benefits of Interventional Cardiology

Interventional cardiology is the preferred treatment for many heart conditions. If you are looking for the best interventional cardiologists, then you can speak to the experts at AMRI Hospitals to get the latest in interventional cardiology procedures.

Here are some key reasons to consider interventional cardiology

Avoiding surgery

Minimally invasive procedures used in interventional cardiology means there is no need for intensive medical procedures and drawn out surgeries. Patients can undergo treatment without a substantial resting period after.

Low procedural risks

Compared to conventional invasive procedures, interventional cardiology has lower risks, faster recovery time, and improved patient satisfaction. 

Decreased pain

Minimally invasive procedure means there is decreased pain and a reduced risk of infection.

Other benefits include avoidance of large scars, performing the procedure on an outpatient basis and use of local anaesthesia. 

The overarching aim of interventional cardiology is to treat heart problems in a conservative way to avoid surgery. After a procedure, cardiologists may prescribe medication, physical therapy, diet and other non-surgical procedures to restore your heart health.