When most people think about heart procedures, they often picture open-heart surgery. However, doctors can repair many common cardiovascular concerns with a single small incision. This is all possible through the power of the catheter, a thin tube that can thread through arteries in the leg, arm, or groin and reach the inside of the heart. Doctors typically use this device to diagnose cardiovascular conditions, but these tools can also repair the problem.
For this procedure, a doctor inserts a catheter into a blocked artery and inflates a balloon between the blockage. The balloon compresses the plaque and opens up a pathway for blood to travel. The doctor then places a mesh stent that will hold the artery in its open position. The cardiologist then deflates the balloon and removes it, leaving the stent in place.
When doctors detect a blood clot, they will often remove it to prevent heart attack, stroke, and other traumatic events stemming from a blocked artery. They attach a small device that grabs the clot to the end of the catheter and thread it through the body. The physician then collects the clot and removes it through the incision site.
Sometimes, abnormalities in heart tissue can cause an irregular heartbeat, called an arrhythmia, which can be due to disease, smoking, structural changes in the heart, and other factors. These arrhythmias can make the heart quiver and pump blood less efficiently. Cardiologists can correct this by threading a catheter into the heart and using either heat or cold to scar the tissue responsible for the abnormal electrical signals, which can help your heart return to a healthy rhythm.
If you would like to take control of your cardiovascular health, schedule an appointment with a Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group cardiologist. They can discuss your heart health with you and determine an action plan for achieving a healthier heart. Locate your nearest affiliated emergency room so you know where to go during a serious cardiac event.
St. Luke’s Health is home to the most cath labs in North Houston, including new expansions at The Woodlands Hospital and The Vintage Hospital. This allows our teams at Woodlands North Houston Heart Center and Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group in Northwest Houston to accommodate more team members and care for more cardiac surgery patients than ever before.
American Heart Association | Cardiac Catheterization
Healthline | Cardiac Catheterization
Texas Heart Institute | Balloon Angioplasty and Stents
Medical News Today | What to know about arrhythmia
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