Medically Reviewed by Anil Om, MD
When an “Interventional” cardiologist intervenes – it’s in a good way: finding where an arterial blockage is and, if needed, opening that blockage with a stent.
McLeod Interventional Cardiologist Anil Om, MD, offers details on his role and how improvements prevent future arterial blockages:
Here’s a summary of Dr. Om’s comments:
Taking care of patients with heart disease certainly takes a team effort. We have non-interventional cardiologists, clinical cardiologists, and invasive cardiologists. It’s a team effort.
Interventional cardiologists are there to open up blockages. Any patient who has a heart attack, angina, or chest pain can have significant blockages in the arteries of their heart. Trying to treat them with medicine is the first choice – a good choice. If that does not work or if someone is having a heart attack, our role is to fix those blockages.
Cardiac catheterization – is also called coronary angiography – is used to find the blockages. In a patient with angina or heart attack, we take those pictures to see the blockages and where they are. Then, we decide what to do to treat them.
Some we treat with medicine. Some, with a stent. Some people need bypass surgery, depending on the number of blockages, the location and the complexity.
There’s been significant improvement in how we treat those blockages in the last 15 years. It’s so much easier, so much better for the patient now.
We have different kinds of stents so that the likelihood of the blockages reappearing after a stent is inserted is so low that it’s amazing how well patients do after they are treated with stents.
A stent is basically a piece of stainless steel like what we have in a pen. It’s just a spring coil. And that goes right inside the artery and keeps it open.
There are some stents that are coated with medicine. These medicines make the likelihood of blockages coming back less likely. There’s a 90-95% chance that the artery will stay open if the stents have medication on them. That is a great achievement. In the past, using only angioplasty (with no stent) when 40-45% of those patients would have blockages reoccur.
So now only 5% have recurring blockages. That’s wonderful news for patients with coronary artery disease and for interventional cardiology.