Angie's LIST Guide to
Who are interventional cardiologists
Interventional cardiologists primarily diagnose and treat conditions like coronary artery disease, atherosclerosis and peripheral arterial disease.
Deposits that include fatty cholesterol and calcium can build up on the interior surface walls of your arteries and can result in atherosclerosis, also called hardening of the arteries. Atherosclerosis can decrease blood flow and, if untreated, can acutely affect the heart's ability to function properly. Patients suffering from atherosclerosis may experience pain in the legs, toes or feet.
Peripheral arterial disease results from atherosclerosis, which can be attributed to layers of plaque attaching to the artery walls and affecting blood flow to other regions of the body.
Should a cardiologist diagnose serious conditions that require surgery, like heart damage or blocked arteries, he or she will work with heart surgeons to determine the best course of treatment. After surgery, you'll return to the care of a cardiologist to ensure proper recovery.
What interventional cardiologists do
Whereas surgery often entails making large incisions, interventional cardiologists use a technique called cardiac catheterization to diagnose conditions affecting the heart, including cardiovascular disease. The procedure allows doctors to see inside the coronary arteries to evaluate and assess how well your heart is functioning. Doctors are able to see if plaque has built up within the inner walls of the arteries and how it has affected the heart. They insert flexible, hollow tubes called catheters into the patient's blood vessels or arteries located in your arm or within the groin area. Patients receive a local anesthetic to minimize pain, but generally after the catheter is inserted there is little discomfort during the procedure. Most cardiac catheterization procedures are done on an out-patient basis.
Interventional cardiologists may also inject dyes to measure and evaluate how well blood is flowing within the arteries. During the procedure, doctors can locate plaque deposits, collect blood samples and assess the functioning ability of the heart's chambers and valves to see if there are blockages or narrowing of the arteries.
Finding an interventional cardiologist
If you need to see an interventional cardiologist, your primary care physician will most likely need to refer you. Treatment is generally covered by most health insurance coverage plans, but if you are unsure check with the company that provides your policy. If you were provided with a directory of doctors when you initially received your health insurance, this would be a good place to look for a qualified doctor that specializes in interventional cardiology. The listings of medical professionals within your provider directory have already undergone some level of screening and have their services paid for by your health insurance company.
Once you've narrowed down your list, verify their qualifications, education, continuing education, accepted insurance plans and affiliated hospitals by consulting Angie's List, where you can also see member reviews and rankings. This way, you can assemble feedback and guidance first-hand, which will help you make a better and more informed decision.
Interventional cardiologists must first obtain certification through the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM). Credentials and training are important when choosing any doctor. You will be reassured to know that the doctor you see for treatment is licensed and has completed the necessary education and training before he or she can provide services and treat patients.