At Dignity Health, cardiology specialists perform surgical and non-surgical procedures to treat, prevent, and manage heart conditions.
The following are some examples:
- 3D mapping tracks the electrical activity of your heart muscle to help pinpoint the source of arrhythmia (abnormal heartbeat).
- Ablation, or cardiac ablation, selectively destroys cells in your heart that are causing an arrhythmia. Cryoablation is a specific method using extremely cold liquid.
- Angioplasty can increase blood flow to your heart by inflating a tiny balloon inside blocked coronary arteries.
- Cardiac catheterization is a procedure to look inside the arteries of your heart. If an artery is blocked, doctors can perform angioplasty or place a stent to keep the artery open.
- Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery replaces a blocked part of a coronary artery using part of a healthy artery from your leg or arm.
- Endovascular stent, or “heart stent,” is a small tube placed inside a blocked coronary artery to hold it open and increase blood flow to your heart tissue.
- Heart transplant replaces a person’s own heart with a donor organ.
- Left ventricular assist device (LVAD) is a mechanical pump that helps a weakened heart work better.
- Open heart surgery is any cardiovascular surgery, such as CABG, that requires the surgeon to make an incision in the breastbone (sternum) to access the heart through the chest.
- Pacemaker is a medical device implanted in your chest that helps your heart maintain a normal rhythm.
- Thrombolysis is the use of “clot-busting” medications to dissolve blood clots.
Before a cardiology appointment, you should make a list of your current medications and any symptoms that you notice. Doing this will give your doctor the fullest picture possible of your condition. It can also be helpful to write down a list of questions you plan to ask during your appointment so as not to forget anything.
You should be prepared to list your previous diagnoses, such as high blood pressure (hypertension), heart-related conditions, and other conditions such as allergies. If you know the health history of your immediate family members, such as grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, and other close relatives, it is helpful to let your doctor know whether there have been other cases of heart disease in your family.
If you have records of previous medical appointments, lab results, or other information, bring this documentation to your appointment.
If you are a candidate for a cardiovascular treatment such as surgery, your doctor or surgeon will advise you on how best to prepare. You will need to quit smoking before surgery and may need to stop taking some medications, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol).
Minimally invasive cardiovascular treatments require less recovery time than major procedures like open heart surgery. You will receive specific instructions and guidelines regarding your recovery. Discuss post-procedure limitations with your doctor well before treatment. This will help you plan for recovery time, such as taking time off work.
Cardiovascular treatments can be life-saving. While you will need to take some time to recover from any surgical procedure fully, you may actually feel more energetic than you have for a long time because your heart is functioning better.
Most cardiovascular procedures are performed in a hospital or surgical center. You may receive either light sedation or general anesthesia, depending on the treatment. In general, be prepared to stay overnight after a heart procedure. Major surgery usually requires a stay of several days in a special cardiac intensive care unit.
The information contained in this article is meant for educational purposes only and should not replace advice from your healthcare provider.