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Interventional cardiology is involved in the transcatheter treatment of certain heart diseases. Interventional cardiologists are trained to perform this type of treatment in cardiac catheterization laboratories within a hospital. Most of the interventions that are performed on the cardiovascular system are considered minimally invasive due to the size of the incision that does not exceed 2 cm. These procedures involve inserting a catheter into certain blood vessels of the arms or legs to the heart or a certain segment of a blood vessel and it is monitored under x-rays.

The advantages of this type of interventions include reduced pain, significantly reduced risk of infections, avoidance of major scarring and a shorter recovery time after the intervention. In most cases the patients are awake during the intervention and anesthesia is given locally and the patients can go home a few hours after the intervention.

Interventional procedures include:

  • Balloon angioplasty: it is used for unclogging a clogged artery by inserting a small balloon and inflating it wherewith it pushes the atherosclerotic plaque towards the wall of the artery, thus establishing a normal blood flow, whereupon the balloon is removed from the blood vessel.
  • Carotid stenting: during this procedure, a stent is inserted into the narrowed or clogged carotid arteries, which are the arteries that feed the brain.
  • Correction of a congenital heart defect: usually it is performed for correction of a congenital opening between the atria or ventricles of the heart or for angioplasty of the large blood vessels.
  • Intracoronary stenting: inserting a small metallic mesh tube called a stent that will keep the coronary arteries open at the spot of their previous narrowing.
  • Implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICD): these are implanted in people with an increased risk of sudden cardiac failure. They are implanted subcutaneously through a small incision near the shoulder, they use electrical impulses for correction of life-threatening irregular rhythm.
  • Implanting an electrostimulator – pacemaker: mostly in patients with unusually slow heart rhythm, heart failure, and in people at risk of sudden cardiac death. The pacemakers coordinate the pump action of the heart by sending electrical signals.
  • Peripheral arterial disease: assessment of the disease of the blood vessels outside the heart. The balloon angioplasty and stenting techniques can be used in this case as well.