Heart disease is the leading cause of death for Americans, regardless of gender or race. Coronary artery disease is the most prevalent type of heart disease. Thankfully, cardiac care can help you avoid the complications of untreated heart disease. As a board-certified interventional cardiologist, Dr. Muthu Velusamy is experienced when it comes to diagnosing and treating heart disease here at Cardiovascular Institute of America.
Below, Dr. Velusamy sheds light on two common procedures 一 cardiac catheterization and percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) 一 and when you might benefit from them.
What is a cardiac catheterization and when is PCI needed?
Cardiac catheterization and PCI are two separate minimally invasive procedures.
Understanding cardiac catheterization
Cardiac catheterization, also referred to as cardiac cath or cardiac angiogram, provides images of the inside of your heart and arteries. To obtain these images, a small thin tube (called a catheter) is inserted into an artery in your groin (or arm) and then guided to your heart. Dr. Velusamy adds a special dye into your coronary arteries to highlight any potential blockages.
Cardiac cath can be diagnostic (in which the images obtained are used to diagnose conditions), but it can also be used to treat heart conditions, too. If cardiac catheterization images show narrowing of arteries, then PCI comes into play.
Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) is more often referred to as a coronary angioplasty, balloon angioplasty or even simpler 一 angioplasty. The goal of PCI is to improve the blood flow in your heart, which is achieved thanks to a balloon-tipped catheter. Once the catheter is in place (near the blockage), the balloon is inflated. This opens your artery and improves blood flow.
In some cases, a stent (a wire mesh tube) is placed to keep the artery open even after the balloon is removed. Once the stent is in place, the balloon is removed. Some stents slowly release medication that prevents plaque from building up and blocking your artery. These are called drug-eluting stents. Only 10% of individuals with drug-eluting stents experience a re-narrowing of the artery, compared to 40% of individuals who receive non-drug stents.
Why do you need a cardiac catheterization and PCI?
Cardiac catheterization and (PCI) are both minimally invasive medical procedures used to help diagnose and treat problems with your heart and coronary blood vessels. You may benefit from these two procedures if you:
- Need to determine if you have heart disease or problems with your coronary arteries
- Need to treat blocked blood vessels
- Have already had a heart attack and want to prevent future damage
After your procedure, you’ll stay in the hospital for monitoring. You may stay for a few hours or overnight, depending on your specific conditions. We provide you with post-procedure care instructions, including:
- If you need to take anticoagulants and for how long
- Activity restrictions and any other modifications
- When to schedule a follow-up appointment
Although the thought of heart procedures, even minimally invasive ones, can be daunting, it’s important to remember the major benefits of PCI. Not only can it improve blood flow, but it can also help treat symptoms of blocked arteries, including chest pain and shortness of breath.
To learn more about cardiac catheterization and PCI, schedule a consultation at Cardiovascular Institute of America in Lutz or Tampa, Florida, by calling the location of your choice or using our convenient online booking tool.