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What Does an Interventional Cardiologist Do?

September 1, 2022

Interventional cardiology is a subspecialty of cardiology that uses specialized catheter-based techniques to diagnose and treat coronary artery disease, vascular disease, structural heart disease, and congenital heart defects. They use various diagnostic tools and imaging techniques to measure cardiovascular functions like blood pressure and blood flow in the major arteries throughout the body and the heart's different chambers.

We’ll cover more about interventional cardiologists below, including the difference between cardiologists and interventional cardiologists below.

What Are the Differences Between Interventional Cardiology and General Cardiology?

One of the most significant differences between interventional cardiology and general cardiology is that interventional cardiologists are only trained to perform specific catheter-based treatments for heart disease. In contrast, general cardiologists are not trained in those procedures.

General cardiologists specialize in diagnosing and caring for patients with conditions like hypertension, high cholesterol, and elevated risk of heart attack or stroke. They conduct and order many tests and procedures related to cardiovascular concerns but do not perform traditional “open” surgeries or endoscopic procedures.

Interventional cardiologists are trained to place stents in clogged arteries to allow blood to flow correctly and reduce the risk of stroke or heart attack. They also repair holes in the heart or place special devices in the heart, so it functions properly.

In addition, interventional cardiologists use cutting-edge technology and the newest techniques in the field of medicine, including cardiac catheterization, transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), and mitral valve replacement and repairs. They are usually a one-time or occasional care provider but are not part of a patient’s ongoing medical team.

What Training Are Interventional Cardiologists Required to Have?

Interventional cardiologists must complete six years of post-medical school training in internal medicine and a general cardiology fellowship. This is followed by two to three additional years of training in interventional cardiology, for a total of eight to nine years of postgraduate training, which is similar to the most advanced surgical subspecialties in medicine.

What Tests Do Interventional Cardiologists Perform?

Interventional cardiologists perform several tests and procedures on people of all ages. It’s important to note that they do not do traditional “open” surgery; cardiac surgeons do that. The tests and procedures an interventional cardiologist performs or orders depend on the patient’s specific issue, overall health, and wellness goals.

Cardiovascular Imaging

Interventional cardiologists often order imaging studies to look at the structure and function of the heart and cardiovascular system. This helps them to evaluate, diagnose, monitor, and manage heart and vascular concerns.

  • Cardiac computed tomography: This uses X-ray technology, imaging, and computers to create cross-sectional views of the heart’s anatomy, circulation, and the greater vessels of the cardiovascular system.
  • Coronary angiography: This imaging study uses contrast dye, which is injected into the bloodstream via a catheter. It’s visible in X-ray images as blood flows through the arteries to identify blockages.
  • Digital subtraction angiography: This imagery method is used to visualize blood vessels by removing structures such as bones from images.
  • Echocardiogram: This uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of the heart’s chambers, valves, and blood vessels.
  • Intravascular ultrasound: This uses sound waves to generate images of the inside of blood vessels.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging: This creates detailed images of the structures in and around the heart.
  • Myocardial perfusion imaging: This involves a radioactive substance called thallium being injected into the bloodstream when a patient is at a maximum level of exercise and takes images of the heart’s muscle cells.

Visit Champion Heart & Vascular Center For Convenient, Cost-Effective, and Expert Treatment

At Champion Heart & Vascular Center, you’ll find heart and vein experts who can help treat your condition, and get you back to living a comfortable, healthy life. With offices in Dunn, Oxford, Fuquay-Varina, and Henderson, North Carolina, you can receive top-notch medical care wherever is most convenient for you. Visiting multiple doctors and specialists is expensive — that’s why we prioritize being more cost-effective than visiting the hospital.

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