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The Differences Between Invasive, Noninvasive, and Interventional Cardiology

Jun 18, 2019

Doctor Holds Red Heart

Your heart is absolutely essential to your overall health and well-being. Having a healthy heart is necessary if you want to live a long and happy life. Unfortunately, as cardiology specialists will tell you, there are many problems that can arise with your heart health, and given that this is such a vital organ, it’s important to be aware of your heart at all times. The more you know, the better off you will be. This is especially true considering that, in some cases, the warning signs and symptoms may not be obvious. Thankfully, cardiologists can make a big difference. These doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating problems within the heart and surrounding arteries can answer all your questions and concerns about the three branches of cardiology: invasive, noninvasive, and interventional.

What Are Invasive, Noninvasive, and Interventional Cardiology?

Before diving into the three branches of cardiology, it helps to understand what cardiology is. This overarching branch of medicine covers the cardiovascular system and everything that goes into the care of the heart and arteries. With so many aspects of the cardiovascular system to think about, your cardiologist must consider a variety of variables when determining any heart problems. This includes your heart, arteries, and blood vessels.

When it comes to uncovering any present or potential heart problems, your advanced cardiology specialist may:

  • Review your medical records and ask any pertinent questions about your medical history.
  • Check and test your lung function, blood pressure, and blood vessels.
  • Run tests to more closely examine your cardiac health. X-rays, blood tests, and electrocardiograms (ECG) are common examples with other specialized tests available as well.

While there are different types of cardiac specialists out there, such as cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, interventional cardiologists, and cardiothoracic surgeons, all these medical professionals are highly trained in heart health issues. A cardiac surgeon specializes in performing heart surgery, but there are procedures that cardiologists perform as well in addition to diagnostic testing.

There are three main types of cardiology: invasive, noninvasive, and interventional. Your cardiologist may rely on one or a combination of techniques to correctly diagnose and properly treat your heart problem to the best of their ability. The correct cardiology treatment could save your life.

What Is Invasive Cardiology?

Invasive cardiology involves open or minimally invasive operations to locate and treat electrical or structural abnormalities in the cardiac system. These include the following procedures:

  • Angioplasty: Arterial plaque is a soft, sticky film comprised of cholesterol, calcium, fat, and other substances found in your blood. If too much plaque is clogging your arteries, your blood flow may become affected. That’s where an angioplasty comes into play. This involves the insertion of a miniscule balloon into your clogged vein, which pushes plaque against the walls to increase your blood flow and help your heart return to normal capacity.
  • Stenting: Often performed jointly with angioplasty, a cardiac stent is a tiny metal or plastic coil/tube that can permanently hold open a clogged vein. If you have clogged veins, your cardiologist may recommend these two procedures.

What Is Noninvasive Cardiology?

Just as the name indicates, noninvasive cardiology diagnoses heart issues without the insertion of needles, fluids, or other instruments into your body. Some of the most popular noninvasive techniques include:

  • Cardiac electrophysiology: This is the study and testing of electrical currents that result in heartbeats. Your cardiologist can let you know if this testing is ideal for your case.
  • CT scans: CT scans generate images that can be used in determining whether you have heart disease or atherosclerosis, otherwise known as plaque buildup on your arteries.
  • Echocardiography: This involves using ultrasound waves to generate images of the heart and nearby structures, which enables cardiologists to observe your heart’s capacity for pumping blood, fighting off infections, and more. Plus, echocardiography can reveal structural abnormalities that could have a big impact on your cardiac health.
  • Heart monitors: Wearing a heart monitor is another way for your cardiologist to monitor your heart’s activity and capacity. These monitors, also referred to as Holter monitors or cardiac event records, are a tape recorder of sorts for your heart’s electrical activity over a particular length of time.
  • Nuclear cardiology: Through the use of radioactive element in imaging, nuclear cardiology is a noninvasive study of cardiovascular disorders. Careful imaging techniques can allow cardiologists to view different aspects of the heart and identify where problems may lie.
  • Stress tests: Stress testing typically involves exercise and physical activity, which is closely observed by your cardiologist. By getting your blood pumping and your body moving, your heart will be performing under physical stress, and this activity can give your cardiologist valuable information about how your heart holds up in these situations.

Using these noninvasive procedures, your cardiac specialist may identify potential risks or existing conditions and recommend medications or lifestyle changes that will help improve your heart health.

Doctor Listens to Heart

What Is Interventional Cardiology?

The final branch of cardiology is called interventional cardiology. Interventional cardiology services in Suffolk County, NY, are a nonsurgical treatment option that employs a small, flexible tube called a catheter to make repairs to your cardiac system. Some of these repairs could improve weakened or damaged blood vessels, narrowed arteries, and more. If your cardiologist identifies a problem with your heart structure, interventional cardiology can make a difference.

Three of the most common conditions treated through interventional cardiology are:

  • Coronary artery disease: This is the narrowing of the arteries, negatively impacting blood and oxygen supply throughout the cardiac chamber.
  • Heart valve disease: This happens when your heart valves aren’t functioning as they should. Valves control blood flow into the heart’s chambers, so it’s any issues that need to be addressed as soon as possible to prevent further problems.
  • Peripheral vascular disease: This is a disease in which clogged or hardened veins and arteries throughout the body impact your heart health.

If you want to make your heart health a priority, the trusted team at Peconic Bay Medical Center can help you. Call for a consultation today!