When it comes to your heart health, you should be more proactive than reactive. Once you are diagnosed with a serious heart issue, you need to take steps that will help you get back on track. One of those steps may refer you to a cardiovascular specialist. A cardiovascular specialist is an expert in the treatment of heart disease and stroke. Specifically, they specialize in heart and blood vessel diseases and other complex cardiac conditions, such as heart arrhythmia and even heart attacks. These specialists can perform a number of procedures that can help treat and prevent future heart issues from affecting you. So. how can these professionals assist you on your heart health journey? Let’s look at the types of procedures that these doctors can perform.

Catherization Interventions

One of the most common procedures performed by cardiovascular specialists are catherization interventions. This group of procedures involves techniques and tests that utilize catheters to asses the patient’s heart damage and attempts to reverse or correct it. These procedures are usually done in an out-patient setting or within a hospital with minimal scarring. These procedures include, but are not limited to, the following: electrophysiology tests, stent placements, balloon angioplasties, radiofrequency ablations, atherectomies, percutaneous valve repairs, and embolic protection procedures.

To begin, one of the basic procedures that a cardiovascular specialist can perform is an electrophysiology study. This test uses electrical pulses to measure the electrical activity in your arteries and veins. These pulses are then sent to a machine called an electrocardiogram or ECG. ECG’s are used to determine if you have heart disease or stroke, and they also measure how much blood is flowing through your arteries. A cardiovascular specialist will use electrophysiology to check for any abnormal electrical activity in your arteries or irregular heartbeats.

Cardiovascular specialists can also insert stents into the heart to help prevent or treat heart disease. During this procedure, the specialist will insert a stainless steel mesh tubing through a catheter to the problem blood vessel. The stent is then inserted to open the blood vessel or artery to allow for proper blood flow once more.

In a similar procedure, a cardiovascular specialist can perform balloon angioplasties. In this procedure, a tiny balloon is inserted into the blocked artery and inflated into the heart. Because the plaque inside the artery is now compressed against the walls of the artery, blood can travel through it. The balloon is then deflated and taken back out. When plaque in the arteries becomes too large to carry oxygen-rich blood, the heart will have to work harder and will eventually fail. Therefore, it is important that a cardiovascular specialist is seen to address these issues before they cause fatal damage.

Another catherization technique performed by a cardiovascular specialist is radiofrequency ablation. This procedure sends electrical energy through a catheter in order to burn an abnormal pathway to prevent abnormal heart rhythms, or arrhythmia. 

Cardiovascular specialists also perform atherectomies. This procedure uses a burr or shaver at the very tip of a catheter which is guided to the blocked area to remove plaque buildup. This can also be done with a laser, another technique that the specialist can do.

If a patient’s heart valve is torn or damaged, the cardiovascular specialist can perform a percutaneous valve repair. In this case, the catheter is used to transport devices such as clips to repair the valve. Once repaired, the blood can flow normally.

One of the last procedures using a catheter that a cardiovascular specialist can perform is the insertion of an embolism protection device. These devices, sometimes filters, are used to filter out plaque that is traveling through your blood. In this way, they are able to filter out the possibility of blockage when the carotid artery is narrowed or a bypass graft is being used.

Heart Valve Replacements

The most complex procedures that they perform, and quite possibly, the most life-saving, are heart valve replacements. Whether done through open-heart surgery or by a minimally-invasive procedure, the heart valve replacement procedure is one of the most important procedures to be performed. During an open-heart valve replacement, the patient’s heart is stopped so the doctors can repair or replace the damaged heart valve. However, the replacement can also be done using a catheter and minimal scarring and recovery. In this procedure, the catheter is loaded with a new valve and inserted via a balloon catheter or what the medical professionals call a “spring-loaded” valve. In both of these procedures, the cardiovascular specialist is able to replace the valve with a better valve from a organ donor or from other sources.

The cardiovascular specialist is a medical doctor who specializes in treating heart disease, stroke and other conditions. With many years of training under their belt, cardiologists are trained to treat patients with the most complex of heart problems. Working closely with your other doctors, they will be able to treat your symptoms, and guide you on a path to better heart health. If you are looking for a heart doctor or cardiac specialist in Lafayette, LA, look no further than the team at CT Cardio!