Interventional cardiologists treat narrowed arteries and weakened heart valves — often caused by coronary artery disease, heart valve disease, or peripheral vascular disease. A patient with any of the following conditions would be considered a candidate for interventional cardiology:
Coronary artery disease
Coronary artery disease is the narrowing of the coronary arteries, the large blood vessels that supply the heart muscle with blood and oxygen. Narrowing of coronary arteries is caused by atherosclerosis, which describes a buildup of fatty deposits, cholesterol, calcium, and plaque on the inner surface of the arteries. Atherosclerosis restricts blood flow to the heart, which can lead to heart attack or other heart problems. Symptoms may include angina (intermittent chest pain), shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, and/or weakness.
Heart valve disease
Heart valve disease involves heart valves that do not correctly regulate the flow of blood through the heart chambers. This condition can be congenital (from birth defects) or may arise through damage by rheumatic fever, bacterial infection, or because of heart attack. Valves can also degenerate as part of the normal aging process. In cases where a patient’s heart must pump harder it may be unable to supply adequate blood circulation to the rest of the body. Two common forms of heart valve disease are aortic valve stenosis and mitral valve regurgitation. Symptoms may include shortness of breath, chest pain, swelling of the ankles and legs, fatigue, dizziness, and/or fainting.
Peripheral vascular disease
Peripheral vascular disease affects other arteries that run throughout the body. Like the coronary arteries in the heart, these vessels can become clogged and hardened through atherosclerosis, and can increase the risk for high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke and limb loss. Symptoms may also include pain in the leg muscles (particularly calves and thighs) and/or severe aching pain in the toes or feet at night.
In general, any patient with a history of angina that cannot be addressed with medication, who experiences cardiovascular or structural heart problems after a heart attack, or who has a confirmed diagnosis of atherosclerosis or other vascular disease is a good candidate for interventional cardiology.