Interventional Cardiology

New advances in heart care make it possible to diagnose, treat or help prevent many cardiovascular problems without surgery. We call these treatments interventional procedures (or cardiac catheterization procedures).

In many cases, interventional procedures are just as effective as heart surgery — but with fewer risks. This means many people who are not good candidates for surgery still have lifesaving treatment options.

Doctor looking at a tablet by a patient's bedside

Who Should See an Interventional Cardiologist?

If your doctor suspects you have a heart or vascular problem, cardiac catherization can help us confirm it. We diagnose common and complex conditions, including:

  • Angina (chest pain)
  • Carotid artery stenosis
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Heart attack
  • Peripheral vascular disease
  • Valve and structural heart problems, such as leaky valves or patent foramen ovale

In many cases, after we locate a heart problem, we also use cardiac catheterization to treat it. Interventional procedures can help:

  • Improve blood flow to your heart. We might use a rotating device to clear plaque build-up in the coronary arteries, or repair a faulty valve.
  • Reopen blocked blood vessels using special balloons or tiny tubes called stents. For example, we can open the carotid arteries (the main blood vessels that lead to the brain) to reduce the risk of stroke.
  • Repair a damaged heart valve, or replace it with an artificial one.
  • Repair structural problems caused by congenital heart disease.
  • Reduce pain and improve mobility by reopening blocked arteries in the legs.
  • Lower your risk of life-threatening conditions. When left untreated, clogged arteries, damaged valves and other problems can lead to heart attack, heart failure or stroke.

Expert Heart Attack Treatment

Cardiac catherization can also save lives during a major heart attack.

Our team’s ability to treat the most serious heart attacks swiftly and successfully using interventional procedures ranks among the nation’s best. That’s because our average “door-to-balloon time” — the amount of time between a heart attack patient’s arrival in the emergency room and the moment their blocked artery is reopened — is 38 minutes. In comparison, the national average is 59 minutes.

How Cardiac Catheterization Works

Our interventional cardiologists can reach your heart by guiding catheters (hollow, flexible tubes) through your blood vessels. This process is often called cardiac catheterization.

With cardiac catheterization, we can find blocked arteries or other conditions without opening your chest. We can also fix heart problems by passing tiny tools or devices, such as balloons or stents, through the catheter.

Compared to traditional surgery, most people recover from an interventional procedure more quickly and with less pain. That’s because we don’t need to cut through skin, muscle or other tissue.

Depending on the type of procedure you have — and the reason you need it — you may be able to go home the same day or next day.

A Team Approach

Because Centra offers the full range of cardiovascular services, you have access to complete care — no matter what your condition. For example, if your interventional cardiologist diagnoses a problem that needs surgery, we have heart surgeons and vascular surgeons who can help.

Our integrated team also includes doctors who specialize in:

This collaboration ensures you have prompt access to care for any new condition or complications. And together, we make sure you receive the best possible care with the best possible results.

Why Choose Centra for Interventional Cardiology?

If you’re looking for expert heart care close to home, you’ll find experienced interventional cardiologists — and the latest treatments — throughout central Virginia.

You and your loved ones can have confidence in our care because:

  • We’re a national leader in heart attack care. Our average door-to-balloon time of 38 minutes places us in the 98th percentile among U.S. hospitals. The American Heart Association recommends reopening the artery within 90 minutes. Fast door-to-balloon times help minimize heart damage and improve your chance of recovery.
  • We’re recognized for outstanding care. We’ve earned accreditations and certifications from independent organizations that rate the safety and quality of healthcare facilities. These include a Chest Pain Accreditation from the American College of Cardiology and a Disease-Specific Care Certification from the Joint Commission for acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) care.
  • Our safety scores are among the nation’s best. When you have cardiac catheterization at Centra, you’re in capable hands. Our risk-adjusted mortality rate among patients undergoing interventional procedures is 1.8% (compared to the U.S. average of 2.03%). This places us in the 90th percentile nationwide.

Knowing someone was there with me every step of the way [during emergency coronary artery stenting] made all the difference. I am just so thankful that our community can offer this level of care. You don’t have to go anywhere else to get great care.

Keith Henshaw , Cardiac Catheterization Patient

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