One area a cardiologist might choose to focus on is something called interventional cardiology. This is a way of minimizing the risk in heart surgery by minimizing the invasiveness of the surgery itself. This is often done through the use of catheters and can fix a wide range of heart problems after medication has stopped working and before major surgery is needed. An interventional cardiologist is often considered the middle ground between a cardiologist and a heart surgeon.
The First Steps of Treating Heart Disease
Every single person who develops some kind of heart problem
will eventually be put on a medication to assist in their heart problem. The doctor will usually recommend some lifestyle changes
, along with medications. These medications will include blood thinners
, beta blockers, medications to lower blood pressure and medications to lower cholesterol. For many, these medications can be used for years effectively, as long as the patient maintains a healthy lifestyle. In some cases, these medications might stop being effective. Usually, when this happens, the cardiologist will look at minimally invasive procedures
in order to fix the problem.
Interventional Cardiology Surgeries
There are several different surgeries that someone who specializes in interventional cardiology might use. These often include the use of a catheter, threaded into the body and towards the heart in order to improve a condition. Some common types of interventional surgeries are angioplasties
, valvuloplasties, congenital heart defect
corrections and coronary thrombectomies.
Angioplasties are one of the most common procedures that an interventional cardiologist will perform. In an angioplasty, a cardiologist will treat coronary artery disease
by inserting a catheter into a person vein. At the end of this catheter will be a balloon. The cardiologist will thread in the catheter until they reach the vein blockage. Then, they will expand the balloon and remove the blockage.
A valvuloplasty is much like an angioplasty. However, instead of using the balloon to widen arteries, the balloon is used to widen a valve. Aortic and Mitral valvuloplasties are the most common types performed.
Congenital heart defect correction -
Some defects are made. Some people are born with congenital heart defects that need to be corrected. In these cases, the same catheter based approach will be used to improve blood flow in the heart, which has been inhibited due to a congenital defect
Coronary thrombectomies -
Coronary thrombectomies are performed when there is a blood clot in the heart somewhere. In these cases, coronary thrombectomies are performed as a last resort, when all other measures have failed. A blood clot in the heart
can be extremely serious and can cause death if it is not removed as quickly as possible.
Interventional cardiology requires a special kind of cardiologist to handle. In some cases, these interventional procedures will be performed by a patient's primary cardiologist, while others might need to refer their patients out for interventional treatment. Interventional treatment with a cardiologist is a great alternative to traditional surgery
, as it carries significantly less risk and has a faster recovery time.