What kind of work do heart specialists do?

What is a cardiovascular disease heart specialist?

Heart specialists work to treat and prevent diseases such as high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, arrhythmia, and more. They employ diagnostic tests such as angiograms and echocardiograms to diagnose these conditions.

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The more common type of cardiologist is the “invasive” cardiology or invasive cardiac interventionist who performs traditional cardiac catheterizations and interventional procedures on patients with known or suspected coronary artery disease (CAD) including angioplasty (balloon dilation), stenting, atherectomies, brachytherapy and left atrial appendage closure.

Other types of non-invasive procedures are also performed including Holter monitoring, stress testing, echocardiography, nuclear medicine studies and cardiology consultation.

The other type is the “non-invasive” or non-invasive cardiac interventionist who performs procedures such as vascular (carotid) ultrasounds, carotid endarterectomy, carotid stenting and percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI).   

What kind of work do heart specialists do?

Heart specialists diagnose and treat cardiovascular diseases through several diagnostic tests and interventions. They provide consultations, manage patient care and develop treatment plans for patients to help them manage their conditions. 

Heart specialists treat patients with an array of conditions using interventional techniques which might include:

Carotid Endarterectomy

A surgical procedure in which a doctor removes plaque from the carotid arteries that supply blood to the brain. Carotid endarterectomy is often accompanied by a cardiac evaluation because a buildup in these arteries can increase the risk of stroke, heart attack and death.

Arrhythmia

When your heart beats too slowly or quickly. Your doctor might prescribe medication to restore normal rhythm. In some cases, your doctor might recommend anti-arrhythmic drugs or radiofrequency ablation to disturb electrical signals in the heart so it begins beating normally again. In complex cases, you may need surgery involving either an open chest procedure or implantation of a pacemaker.

Carotid Stenting

A procedure to open up narrowed carotid arteries, which supply blood to the brain. A thin tube (catheter) is inserted into an artery in your groin and is threaded through your body to the neck’s carotid artery. Once in place, a small balloon at the tip of the catheter or other tools are used to push open the blockage in the vessel. Carotid stenting is often used in combination with percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI).

Atherectomy

Endovascular treatment for removing plaque that blocks or narrows arteries in patients whose symptoms aren’t relieved by medication or angioplasty alone. An opening in an artery is placed and a tiny device with a sharp, rotating blade (like a can-opener) is inserted. The tip of the blade breaks up and removes the plaque (material that builds up and narrows arteries).

Heart specialists treat disease by using interventional techniques such as:

Angioplasty

Angioplasty is a procedure used to open coronary arteries that have been narrowed or blocked due to atherosclerosis. During angioplasty, an expandable wire mesh tube (called a stent ) is put into place inside the artery, where it will remain permanently. This helps keep your blood vessel open so blood can flow more easily.

Stenting

Placement of mesh tube in an artery to keep the passageway open.

Atherectomy

An endovascular treatment used to remove plaque that blocks or narrows arteries in patients whose symptoms aren’t relieved by medication or angioplasty alone.

Coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG)

This open-heart procedure is done to improve blood flow around the heart to help your heart muscle work better. A healthy artery or vein from another part of the body, usually the chest, arm, leg, or stomach, is taken and attached above and below the blocked coronary artery(s). This new “pipeline” provides an alternate route for blood to get past constricted arteries to your heart muscles.

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