Cardiac Procedures & Therapies
Arteries can become blocked in nearly any part of the body, not just the heart. Over time, plaque and other debris build up in the arteries which causes them to become narrowed. This narrowing of the arteries because of the build-up of plaque, known as atherosclerosis, affects blood flow which can lead to serious cardiac complications if left untreated.
To unblock the artery, the area with the blockage must be precisely targeted. During a diagnostic procedure, known as an angiogram, a contrast dye is injected into the blood vessels. Using X-ray imaging the location and severity of the blockage is identified. Once this has been done, the angioplasty procedure can be performed to help clear the blockage.
During an angioplasty, also known as a percutaneous coronary intervention, a catheter with a small deflated balloon is inserted through the groin and threaded to the blockage. Once there, the balloon is slowly inflated pushing the plaque aside to widen the artery. A mesh tube, called a stent, may be placed in the artery to keep it open after the procedure and reduce the risk of the artery narrowing. This procedure is most effective in treating larger arteries or those with short narrowed areas, although other types of arteries can also be successfully treated with an angioplasty.
A cardiac pacemaker is a device that is implanted under the skin to help control an individual's heart beat. This device is often used in people who have an arrhythmia, or abnormal heart beat, or in people whose heart beats too fast or too slow. A cardiac pacemaker sends signals to the heart that help it to beat at the correct and healthy pace. A cardiac pacemaker helps to track the heartbeat and maintain an adequate heart beat frequency to allow oxygen and nutrients to flow through the body.
A cardiac pacemaker is surgically implanted by a doctor. The pacemaker usually has two parts: the pulse generator and the leads. The pulse generator contains the battery and the information to control the heartbeat, and the leads are the wires that connect the heart to the generator and transfer the electrical messages to the heart.
Laser atherectomy is a new and efficient method of removing plaque from blood vessels clogged by peripheral artery disease. Peripheral artery disease or PAD, also known as peripheral vascular disease or PVD, is caused by atherosclerosis, a condition in which the arteries become clogged with plaque and blood flow is impeded. PAD most frequently occurs in the legs, but can occur elsewhere in the body. Arterial plaque, made up of cholesterol and other substances, usually forms in arteries already narrowed and hardened by the process of arteriosclerosis, a normal part of aging.
During a laser atherectomy, a thin catheter is inserted and moved through the artery to the site of the arterial blockage. High-energy laser light beams emitted through the catheter are aimed at the blockage and the plaque is vaporized. Once the plaque is dissolved, the remaining traces are removed by the catheter or, if small enough, simply permitted to circulate through the blood stream.
The procedure is usually performed under sedation and local anesthesia. Laser atherectomy may be performed alone or in combination with an angioplasty. In some cases, a contrast dye is employed to assist the doctor in visualizing the surgical site. The laser atherectomy procedure takes an hour or two to perform, depending on the complexity of the individual case. Since it is minimally invasive, the patient is most often able to return home later on the same day.
An inferior vena cava (IVC) filter , is a vascular filter that is inserted through a small incision into the main vein in the abdomen. This vein in the abdomen is called the inferior vena cava. The filter prevents blood clots from breaking loose in leg veins and lodging in the lung. The IVC filter is typically implanted permanently in those patients with a high risk of pulmonary embolism.
Cardioversion is a medical procedure used to treat irregular heart rhythm, a condition also known as arrhythmia. Arrhythmia can prevent the heart from pumping enough blood to the rest of the body and eventually lead to a stroke, heart attack or cardiac arrest. Cardioversion helps restore a normal heartbeat through a noninvasive procedure.
Medication alone is usually not enough to correct arrhythmia. With cardioversion, electric shocks are sent to the heart to stop the abnormal rhythm and restart a normal one. This is done while the patient is under sedation, and is usually performed on an outpatient basis. Most people can go home after the sedative wears off.
External counter pulsation (ECP) is a noninvasive procedure used to help stimulate the growth of new blood vessels in the heart and improve the flow of existing blood vessels. This treatment is commonly performed on individuals with coronary artery disease or angina. ECP therapy may be considered when other treatments for heart problems have not been effective.
ECP is performed on an outpatient basis and usually takes about one hour. The patient lies on an examination table and cuffs are attached to the calves and lower and upper thighs. The cuffs are attached to a monitor that allows the doctor to make pressure adjustments based on the results of an electrocardiogram that measures heart rhythm. The cuffs consecutively inflate and deflate, starting with the calves, followed by the lower thighs, and ending with the upper thighs The cuffs deflate as the heart starts another beat, methodically returning blood back the heart on each heart cycle. Because ECP increases the pressure of the blood flowing through the aorta while the heart is at rest, the heart receives extra oxygen-enriched blood. ECP treatment regimens are usually given for an hour each day, five days a week, for a total of 35 hours.
Patients may feel fatigued after the initial treatment, but as the treatments progress, they often experience an increase in stamina and energy. Symptoms such as chest pain and shortness of breath may also decrease. This treatment is effective in promoting growth of new vessels around narrowed and blocked arteries of the heart, resulting in restored blood flow of oxygenated blood to the heart.
To learn more about our Cardiology Services, please contact us today to schedule an appointment!