Heart failure is a chronic, progressive illness that causes the heart to become too weak to effectively pump blood through the body. It cannot be fully cured and is often managed through medication, a healthy lifestyle and, sometimes, surgical intervention. In the early stages, symptoms of heart failure may go unnoticed, but if left unchecked, they will worsen over time and can cause a heart attack or complications with your kidney or liver.
Heart rhythm problems, also known as, arrhythmias occur when the electrical impulses that coordinate your heartbeats don't work properly, causing your heart to beat too fast, too slow or irregularly.
Heart valve conditions occur when one or more of the valves that direct the flow of blood through the heart do not work properly.
PAD affects arteries that supply blood to your limbs, such as the femoral artery in your leg, or the brachial artery in your arm.
Venous insufficiency occurs when your veins do not effectively return blood to the heart, it can cause pain, swelling and blot clots that can be serious and life-threatening.
When an artery becomes narrowed or blocked, a small inflatable balloon can be used to open it up. This treatment may also include placing one or more stents, which are small spring-like tubes that expand inside the artery to hold it open. This procedure is commonly used to treat atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, peripheral artery disease and renal hypertension.
Certain types of heart valve conditions can be treated with catheter-based procedures, such as widening a valve that has become narrowed, or fixing a valve that is leaking. For those who need a new heart valve and are not good candidates for surgery, your doctor may recommend transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) or transcatheter mitral valve replacement (TMVR). In these procedures, an artificial or biological valve is placed inside the disease valve, helping to restore its proper function and relieve symptoms.
Cardiac catheterization procedures are used to implant a variety of devices that are designed to monitor your heart and treat a variety of heart conditions. These include:
- Pacemakers: Wire leads are implanted into your heart and connected to a pacemaker device, which is implanted under your skin. The pacemaker sends electrical signals to your heart to keep it beating properly.
- Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators (ICDs): This device monitors your heart for abnormal rhythms, and sends electrical signals to help restore a normal rhythm when your heart starts beating abnormally.
- Watchman® Implant: This device closes off a small appendage in the heart where blood clots commonly form, and can reduce the risk of stroke for people with atrial fibrillation (AFib) that is not caused by a heart valve problem.
- CardioMEMS® Implant: This device is sometimes recommended for patients with advanced heart failure, and can be used to notify your heart care team that your condition is worsening before you notice any symptom changes.
- Adult Congenital Heart Disease Closures: Holes between the chambers of your heart that never closed properly can be closed using implantable devices.
A tiny heating element on the catheter is used to destroy tissue that creates heart rhythm problems. This procedure can also be used to close veins that are no longer working properly so that healthy veins can grow in their place.
When a major blood vessel has been completely blocked for several months or more, it is known as chronic total occlusion. When a blockage is located where two arteries branch apart, this is called a bifurcation blockage. At Einstein, our interventional cardiologists have extensive experience with these types of conditions, which can be high risk and difficult to treat.
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If you're unsure when you should make an appointment, Einstein recommends that if you've been experiencing symptoms of heart and vascular disease such as chest pain or discomfort, fatigue or weakness, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, swelling of the legs, feet or ankles, dizziness or lightheadedness, have a family history, or your primary care physician recommends seeing a heart specialist due to high blood pressure, high cholesterol or other condition, you should schedule an appointment with an Einstein specialist today.
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