Invasive cardiology uses open or minimally-invasive surgery to identify or treat structural or electrical abnormalities within the heart structure. Common types of invasive cardiology:
• Angioplasty: When plaque clogs your arteries, it becomes difficult for blood to flow normally. Angioplasty inserts a tiny balloon into your clogged vein and pushes plaque against the walls, allowing for increased blood flow.
• Stenting: Stenting is usually done in conjunction with angioplasty. A cardiac stent is a small metal coil which permanently holds a clogged vein open.
Non-invasive cardiology identifies heart problems without using any needles, fluids, or other instruments which are inserted into the body. Non-invasive cardiologists utilize techniques such as:
• Nuclear cardiology: A non-invasive study of cardiovascular disorders by means of various types of imaging which may use radioactive elements.
• Echocardiography: The usage of ultrasound waves to create images of the heart and surrounding structures in order to identify how well the heart pumps blood, infections, and structural abnormalities.
• Cardiac electrophysiology: Study and testing of the electrical currents which generate heartbeats.
• Stress tests: Stress testing usually involves exercise which is monitored by your cardiologist. These exercises provide your cardiologist information about how your heart performs under physical stress.
• Heart monitors: Heart monitors may also be called a Holter monitor or cardiac event recorder. Heart monitors are essentially tape recorders for your heart’s electrical activity over a set amount of time.
• CT scans: CT scans produce images which your cardiologist can examine for heart disease and atherosclerosis.
Interventional cardiology is a non-surgical option which uses a catheter – a small, flexible tube – to repair damaged or weakened vessels, narrowed arteries, or other affected parts of the heart structure. Common conditions treated by interventional cardiology:
• Coronary artery disease: A narrowing of the arteries which supply the heart muscle with blood and oxygen.
• Heart valve disease: Occurs when the valves which control blood flow into the heart’s chambers are not working correctly.
• Peripheral vascular disease: Your heart can also be affected by clogged or hardened veins and arteries which are in other parts of your body.