It’s possible you don’t know what an interventional cardiologist is.
To be fair, most people don’t encounter one unless they are having a heart attack and make it to the hospital.
With February being Heart Month, we thought it would be a good time to spotlight the role of these specialized heart doctors at Meritus Medical Center.
In 2023, Meritus expanded its cardiology services to include interventional cardiology. Mansoor Ahmad, M.D. FACC, FSCAI, is an interventional cardiologist and the Chair of the Department of Cardiology at Meritus Health. We asked him what the top three things are that people should know about his specialty.
First, interventional cardiologists perform procedures on the heart itself. Among the most common is angiography, which involves using catheters to inject dye into patient’s blood vessels supplying the heart and scanning to find blockages. Another common procedure is angioplasty or stenting, which involves inserting a tiny balloon or a stent into the blood vessel to open a blockage.
Interventional cardiologists’ work has been “a game-changer over the past 25 years,” Dr. Ahmad said. “Being able to open blood vessels quickly during a heart attack has led to a significant decrease in morbidity and mortality.”
The second top thing is that anyone who is experiencing the symptoms of a heart attack should not wait to get help, Dr. Ahmad said. The same goes for those experiencing milder symptoms, which could be a sign that blood vessels are partially blocked and a heart attack could occur.
Symptoms include chest pain or pressure, shortness of breath, breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or heartburn, among others.
“We want people to seek medical attention sooner rather than later,” he said. “Do not ignore your symptoms.”
The reason is there’s a small window to prevent the loss of heart muscle during a heart attack. The longer the time between the onset of symptoms and the procedure to open a blockage, the more heart muscle is damaged.
“We like to say, ‘Time is muscle,’” Dr. Ahmad said, noting that the loss of heart muscle reduces the ability of the heart to pump blood, which leads to a loss of quality of life and sometimes heart failure.
The third top thing to know is that interventional cardiologists don’t want to see you. That’s not because they’re not friendly people.
It’s because they would rather you live a healthy lifestyle, reducing the risk of heart disease.
“Your family history we can’t change,” Dr. Ahmad said. “But you can change your lifestyle, which does help offset genetics.”
That means smoking cessation, eating healthy, controlling your blood pressure and exercising, among other things.
All too often, Dr. Ahmad consults with patients after they’ve had a heart attack and goes over preventative measures. They follow the recommendations and see their lives change.
But if they’d done those preventative measures much earlier in their lives, then it is likely he wouldn’t have seen them in the first place.
“We don’t want to see people on our cath lab table,” Dr. Ahmad said.
To learn more about interventional cardiology services offered at Meritus, visit www.meritushealth.com/services/interventional-cardiology.