Interventional cardiology treatment deals specifically with the catheter based treatment of structural heart disease. A
large number of procedures can be performed on the heart by catheterization.
If arteries are found to be blocked or narrowed (atherosclerosis) they can often be opened by angioplasty. For the angioplasty procedure a catheter with a
balloon on its tip is inserted into the coronary artery and positioned in the blockage. The balloon is then expanded.
This pushes the plaque against the artery wall, thus relieving the blockage and improving blood flow. A small mesh
tube called a stent is usually placed in the artery during angioplasty. The stent is wrapped around the deflated balloon
catheter before the catheter is inserted in the artery. When the balloon is inflated to compress the plaque, the stent
expands and attaches to the artery wall . The stent supports the inner artery wall and reduces the chance of the artery
becoming narrowed or blocked again. There are two types of stents: bare stents (wire mesh) and covered stents (also
commonly called stent grafts).
The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association have recommended that hospitals should
perform a minimum of 400 angioplasty procedures per year in order to maintain the highest level of quality
(Circulation, 2006: 113:156-175).
Sometimes the procedure is not successful or the artery narrows again. A person may require repeat angioplasty or
coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG).