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Interventional cardiologists work with more generalized cardiologists and your primary care physician (PCP) as part of your health care team when you are diagnosed with a heart condition such as coronary artery disease, heart failure or a congenital heart defect. They also treat patients who present with a heart attack.

At Catholic Health's St. Francis Heart Center, our cardiac catheterization laboratories use the most advanced interventional cardiology procedures led by nationally-recognized cardiologists.


Why do I need an interventional cardiologist?

An interventional cardiologist is specifically trained to perform catheter-based procedures to diagnose and treat cardiovascular disease. Catheters are long, thin, flexible tubes through which surgeons can pass surgical tools and tiny cameras to access the body without making large incisions or cuts. These minimally invasive catheterization procedures check blood flow, heart rhythm, blood pressure and vital signs.

An interventional cardiologist does not perform open heart surgeries. Their procedures are performed in a cardiac catheterization laboratory also known as a “cath lab.”


What types of cardiovascular disease are treated by an interventional cardiologist?

Coronary artery disease (CAD). In people with CAD, the coronary arteries cannot bring enough blood, oxygen and nutrients to the heart. Fatty deposits called plaque can build up in the arteries and lead to dangerous blockages. Over time, and if not properly managed, CAD can lead to a heart attack, heart failure or other serious conditions.

Heart attack or myocardial infarction. This condition occurs when blood flow into the heart is blocked or greatly reduced. Plaque buildup, often caused by CAD, typically leads to a heart attack.

Heart failure. Heart failure, or congestive heart failure, is when the heart cannot pump blood as well as it should. In people with heart failure, blood backs up and fluid may build in the lungs, which leads to shortness of breath.

Congenital heart defects. These heart defects are the most common and are present at birth (congenital). Types of congenital heart defects include blood flow problems, holes in the heart or an area of the heart that didn’t form correctly while the baby was in the womb. In some cases, severe or critical heart defects require treatment and correction. Less severe cases may only require ongoing monitoring.



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What procedures are performed by an interventional cardiologist?

Interventional cardiologists diagnose and treat cardiovascular conditions with minimally invasive, catheter-based procedures and techniques. Common procedures include:

Angioplasty or percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). You may need angioplasty to open your arteries if one or more of your coronary arteries have become blocked by plaque. Angioplasty restores blood flow to your heart using a catheter to insert a small balloon or stent (plastic or metal tube) into the blocked artery. Your surgeon uses angioplasty as a minimally invasive alternative to open-heart surgery.

Precision angioplasty uses 3D imaging of the veins to place the stent as precisely as possible. With 3D intravascular imaging, physicians can customize the length and diameter of the stent needed to the exact millimeter.

The precision of 3D intravascular imaging sets St. Francis Heart Center apart. It offers our specialists far more accuracy than the commonly performed 2D intravascular imaging.

Cardiac catheterization. Examining your heart with a catheter provides an interventional cardiologist with valuable information about how your heart, blood vessels and heart valves are working. Your surgeon may use this procedure to diagnose or treat clogged arteries, an irregular heartbeat or other cardiovascular diseases. During this procedure, your specialist passes the catheter through a small incision, into a blood vessel and to your heart.

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). Your interventional cardiologist may recommend TAVR to replace a diseased heart valve if your aortic heart valve no longer works properly. Your surgeon uses either a mechanical valve made from surgical-grade material or a biological value made from pig or cow tissue to replace your aortic valve. Symptoms, such as shortness of breath and chest pain, typically decrease after a TAVR procedure.

Find Care at St. Francis Heart Center

At St. Francis Heart Center locations across Long Island, our cardiac catheterization labs offer the highest level of cardiac care to help diagnose and treat patients with heart disease. Our interventional cardiologists are nationally recognized experts in advanced techniques, including 3D intravascular imaging for angioplasty.

Our dedicated specialists are committed to significantly improving outcomes and reducing the possibility of a recurrence of arterial blockage. We work closely with patients to help them improve their heart health today and continue to practice good heart health habits.

Learn more about our interventional cardiology services.

Call 866-MY-LI-DOC (866-695-4362) to find a Catholic Health physician near you.

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