Basic Information on Interventional Cardiology

You’re in shock, as the doctor’s words play over and over in your head: you’ve had a heart attack. With pain/discomfort in your chest, jaw, neck, back or arms, couple with lightheadedness, nausea, and vomiting, and a severe shortness of breath, you knew something was wrong.

But a heart attack?

What is Interventional Cardiology?

People who experience cardiological illnesses may find themselves referred to a doctor who specializes in interventional cardiology. These doctors have chosen to research and study cardiovascular diseases on a deeper level.

Typically, an interventional cardiologist:

  • has up to 2 additional years of training and education
  • can specifically diagnose and treat heart disease
  • recognizes congenital and structural defects of the heart
  • are considered the experts in the fight against cardiovascular disease

What to Ask on your First Visit?

The worst thing you can do when visiting an Interventional Cardiologist is to refrain from asking any and all questions you are experiencing. Knowing the answers to those questions will not only give you peace of mind, it will help you be proactive in your own treatment in promoting a healthier life for yourself.

Questions you can ask include:

  1. What caused my symptoms?
  2. What are the test options for me? Which do you recommend I take?
  3. Are there resources available to help me understand all of the details of my illness?
  4. What is the technical name of my diagnosis?
  5. What kind of treatment will I be facing?
  6. What will my quality of life look like during this treatment?
  7. Is my condition genetic? Should my children/family be tested?
  8. Will surgery be a requirement (or is it even an option) for me?
  9. What is my long-term prognosis?
  10. Are there any alternative options to surgery or mainstream medication?

What Tests Are Performed

Because of the advances in technology and the extensive research continually being performed in the area of cardiology, interventional cardiologists have a multitude of tests available in the aid of treating the illness you might be facing. Some of those tests include:

  • Angioplasty: if you have been told that one or more of your heart’s arteries are clogged up, then the procedure you will likely undergo is the angioplasty. A temporary balloon is inserted and then inflated within the affected artery itself in an effort to make the artery wider. The goal is to lessen the symptoms of pain and shortness of breath that often occur during a heart attack.
  • Stent: during angioplasty, you may also have a stent inserted which will act as a prop inside the artery. A stent is some tubing made of wire mesh which can be coated with drugs (known as drug eluting) or not (bare-metal).
  • Cardiac Cath: used to gather whatever information found in the blood vessels and heart, a cardiac catheterization helps doctors determine the extent of the damage in your body. This gives them the better ability to make a plan of action to get you on your feet again sooner rather than later.

Success in treating any type of cardiovascular illness begins with each patient arming themselves with knowledge as they move forward. A new diagnosis of any form of heart disease can be scary to experience. Knowing the terminology involved in the determination and treatment of that illness can be helpful as your health and recovery forge ahead successfully.