Interventional cardiology is a branch of medicine that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of heart diseases. Interventional cardiology procedures are minimally invasive and can be performed using catheters and other small devices. This means that they can be done without the need for open-heart surgery.
Interventional cardiology procedures are used to treat conditions such as coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, and valvular heart disease. They can also be used to diagnose heart conditions. If you or someone you know has a heart condition, then you should learn what is interventional cardiology in healthcare and how interventional cardiologists help people with heart disorders.
What is interventional cardiology?
Interventional cardiology is a process of using catheter-based technology to identify heart diseases and disorders. An interventional cardiologist is a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of heart conditions. Interventional cardiologists use a variety of techniques to treat heart disease, including angioplasty, stenting, and cardiac catheterization. They also work closely with other specialists, such as surgeons, to provide the best possible care for their patients.
Interventional cardiologists are often involved in research and clinical trials to develop new treatments for heart disease. They also play a key role in educating other medical professionals and the general public about heart health.
What heart conditions need an interventional cardiology treatment?
There are a number of treatments that fall under Interventional cardiology. Not just treatments, but procedures, the use of diagnostic tools, specialized treatments, and therapies are also included in the field.
Some of the conditions that interventional cardiology can treat include:
- Coronary artery disease
- Heart valve disorder
- Heart attack
- Atrial fibrillation
- Congenital Heart disease and defects
- Heart failure
- Heart valvular disease
- Aortic aneurysms
- Angioplasty and stent placement
- Angioplasty and restenosis
- Aortic aneurysm
- Aortic valve replacement
- Aortic diseases and dissection
- Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)
- Atrial septal defect (ASD)
- Cardiac catheterization
- Cardiac ultrasound
- Cardiac imaging
- Cardiac CT angiography
- Carotid artery angioplasty and stenting
- Congenital heart disease
- Congestive heart disease
- Congenital heart disease, adult
- Coronary angiography
- Diabetes and heart disease
- Gene therapy
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
- Invasive cardiology
- The left ventricular assist device
- Non-invasive cardiology
- Mitral-valve surgery
- Nuclear Cardiology
- Percutaneous coronary intervention
- Patent foramen ovale (PFO)
- Percutaneous myocardial revascularization
- Peripheral artery disease
- Peripheral vascular disease
- Renal artery stenosis
- Preventive cardiology
- Renovascular disease
- Renal artery stenosis
- Sports medicine, cardiology
- Structural heart disease
- Stem-cell therapy for heart failure
- Vascular medicine
Procedures and tests performed by interventional cardiologists
No matter what age, interventional cardiologists treat patients with several types of procedures and tests. One important thing to note here is although interventional cardiologists perform a range of heart-related services, they do not perform open heart surgery as traditional surgeons do. The procedures and tests mainly depend on heart health, the urgency of the procedure, and the current health condition of a patient.
With the upgrades in interventional cardiology, therapeutic care along with state-of-art diagnosis is available for even the patients at risk.
Here’re the details of the interventional cardiologist order and procedures and test;
1. Cardiovascular imaging;
Cardiovascular imaging involves using various imaging modalities to obtain detailed images of the heart and blood vessels. This imaging can be used for diagnosing and treating cardiovascular conditions.
Some of the most commonly used modalities for cardiovascular imaging include echocardiography, cardiac MRI, and cardiac CT. Each of these modalities has its strengths and weaknesses, so the choice of modality depends on the specific clinical question.
2. Cardiac computed tomography (Cardiac CT);
Cardiac computed tomography (CT) is a noninvasive imaging modality that can assess the heart’s structure and function. CT images are created by using a special X-ray machine to take multiple pictures of the heart from different angles. These images are then recombined to create a three-dimensional image of the heart.
Cardiac CT can also be used to assess the function of the heart valves and to identify areas of irregular heart muscle function including coronary artery disease, heart valve problems, and congenital heart defects.
CT is generally safe and well tolerated, but like any medical procedure, there are some risks involved. CT scans use ionizing radiation, which can damage DNA and increase the risk of cancer. However, the risk is very low, and the benefits of CT outweigh the risks for most people.
Specialized cardiac CT includes single-photon emission CT (SPECT), multi-detector CT (MDCT), and electron-beam CT (EBCT).
3. Digital subtraction angiography;
Digital subtraction angiography (DSA) is a radiographic technique used to visualize blood vessels. It involves the injection of a contrast agent into the vessels, followed by the acquisition of digital images. The contrast agent helps to highlight the vessels and allows for the identification of abnormalities.
DSA works by using computer-assisted tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to create images of the blood vessels. A contrast agent is then injected into the vessels and the images are subtracted to create a clear picture of the blood vessels. DSA is a useful tool for the diagnosis of a variety of conditions, including vascular abnormalities, aneurysms, and arteriovenous malformations. It can also be used to guide interventional procedures, such as angioplasty and stenting.
An echocardiogram is a test that uses sound waves to create a picture of your heart. It’s also called an ultrasound of the heart or cardiac ultrasound. During an echocardiogram, a transducer is passed over your chest. The transducer sends out sound waves that bounce off your heart and are converted into moving images of your heart that can be seen on a video screen.
An echocardiogram can be used to:
- Detect heart problems
- Assess damage after a heart attack
- Determine if you have heart failure
- Detect a heart murmur
- Guide procedures to repair heart problems
5. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI);
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a medical imaging technique that uses magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the body. MRI is used to diagnose a wide range of conditions, from brain tumors and stroke to heart disease and ligament tears.
MRI is a safe and painless procedure that has few side effects. The machine that is used for MRI is called an MRI scanner. The scanner is large and cylinder-shaped, and the person being imaged lies inside the cylinder. The MRI scanner creates a powerful magnetic field around the person, which aligns the nuclei of the atoms in the body. Radio waves are then passed through the body, which causes the nuclei to emit signals that are detected by the MRI scanner. These signals are then processed by a computer to create detailed images of the body.
6. Myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI);
Myocardial perfusion imaging is a noninvasive test that is used to assess the blood flow to your heart muscle. This test can be used to help diagnose and treat coronary artery disease.
During the test, you will lie on a table and a small amount of radioactive dye will be injected into your arm. The dye will travel through your blood and will be taken up by your heart muscle. Once the dye has reached your heart, a special camera will be used to take pictures of your heart.
The pictures will show how well blood is flowing to your heart muscle. If you have blockages in your coronary arteries, the blood flow to your heart muscle will be reduced.
Procedures performed by Interventional Cardiologists
ICs perform several diagnostics and therapeutic procedures which include;
1. Alcohol Septal Ablation;
Alcohol septal ablation (ASA) is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat patients with symptomatic hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). HCM is a condition characterized by the thickening of the heart muscle, which can lead to problems with blood flow and heart rhythm.
ASA is performed by making a small incision in the chest and inserting a catheter into the heart. A small amount of alcohol is then injected into the septum, which is the wall that separates the left and right sides of the heart. This procedure destroys the tissue in the septum, which helps to thin the heart muscle and improve blood flow.
2. Cardiac Catheterization;
It is typically performed by inserting a long, thin tube called a catheter into a vein in the arm and threading it through to the heart. During the procedure, the doctor may measure the pressure in the chambers of the heart, take samples of blood for testing, or inject dye into the heart so that it can be seen on an X-ray. Cardiac catheterization can also treat certain heart conditions, such as heart valve diseases and arrhythmias.
The risks of cardiac catheterization are low, but as with any invasive procedure, some potential complications can occur. These include bleeding, infection, and damage to the heart or blood vessels.
3. Atrial septal defect (ASD) closure;
An atrial septal defect (ASD) is a type of congenital heart defect that affects the structure of the heart. An atrial septal defect (ASD) is a hole in the wall (septum) that separates the upper chambers (atria) of the heart. The hole allows oxygen-rich blood from the left atrium to flow into the right atrium. This can strain the heart and lungs.
ASDs are usually diagnosed using an echocardiogram (echo). This is a test that uses sound waves to create a picture of the heart. An ASD can also be diagnosed using other tests, such as a chest X-ray, cardiac MRI, or a cardiac CT scan.
ASDs can be repaired using surgery. The type of surgery will depend on the size of the ASD and the person’s age and health. Small ASDs may close on their own over time.
A noninvasive procedure is performed with a device like a stent or a balloon to restore blood flow by opening the blocked arteries. Angioplasty can be performed as a procedure on the same day of the patient’s arrival. The types of angioplasties include cutting balloons and balloon angioplasty.
How to become an interventional cardiologist?
To become an interventional cardiologist, one must first complete a four-year undergraduate degree, followed by four years of medical school. After medical school, interventional cardiologists must complete a three-year residency in cardiovascular medicine and a one- or two-year fellowship in interventional cardiology. Once they have completed their training, interventional cardiologists must obtain certification from the American Board of Internal Medicine.
Board-certified interventional cardiologists are experts in the treatment of heart disease and can provide the highest quality of care to their patients. If you or a loved one has heart disease, be sure to consult with a board-certified interventional cardiologist.
The general path to being an interventional cardiologist includes;
- Medical school graduation (MD) or from a college of medicinal osteopathic (OD)
- Certification exam and residency training in internal medicine
- Required additional certification and training in interventional cardiology
When do you need the assistance of an interventional cardiologist?
If you have been diagnosed with a heart condition, your doctor may refer you to an interventional cardiologist.
There are many different types of heart conditions, and some require interventional care while others can be treated with medication or lifestyle changes. Your doctor will work with you to determine the best course of treatment for your particular condition.
If you have been diagnosed with a heart condition or are experiencing heart-related symptoms, you may be wondering when you should see an interventional cardiologist. You have to see an interventional cardiologist when;
- You have notable changes in your electrocardiogram test (EKG) that shows blockage at your coronary artery.
- Your doctor suggests specialized heart surgery such as cardiac CT, angioplasty, or heart valve repair.
- You identify that your heart disorder needs special care for diseases like heart failure and unstable angina.
An interventional cardiologist is a specialist in treating cardiovascular diseases, procedures, and tests involved in managing heart health. When you or your loved ones are diagnosed with any heart disease, make sure you know when you should see an interventional cardiologist and when to visit a cardiologist surgeon.