Overview of Interventional Cardiology
Interventional cardiology applies non-surgical techniques to diagnose and treat certain conditions that affect the heart (called cardiovascular diseases). These procedures use catheters (long, flexible tubes) that are threaded through a patient's blood vessels. In this way, an interventional cardiologist can gather data about the patient's heart condition, repair a damaged heart valve, or clear clogged arteries.
Interventional cardiology often treats problems caused by deposits of cholesterol, fat, calcium, and fibrous tissue that can narrow and block arteries, preventing proper blood flow to and from the heart. These deposits are called plaque. The process of plaque build up is called atherosclerosis.
In order to become board-certified interventional cardiologists, physicians must first become board-certified in internal medicine by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM). These physicians also must have a current certificate in cardiovascular disease from the ABIM, must complete related graduate medical education fellowship training, must meet licensure and procedural requirements, and must show clinical competence. Finally, they must pass the Certification Exam in Interventional Cardiology.
To maintain certification, interventional cardiologists must demonstrate involvement in a number of procedures and continue their professional education in areas such as communication, hypertension, heart failure, and preventive cardiology.