Cardiovascular Care at NCH

Interventional Cardiology


Interventional Cardiology is a type of more invasive cardiology that deals with the catheter-based treatment of heart diseases (cardiac catheterization). This specialty uses the latest cardiac technology to perform non-surgical methods for opening blocked arteries.  A catheter is a thin tube that is inserted into a blood vessel through a tiny cut, similar to an IV or needlestick, and threaded to the site of disease. Through the thin tube, your doctor can efficiently guide the tools to where they are needed to treat blocked arteries.  Interventional cardiology offers minimal pain and quick recovery as compared to open surgical procedures.  With NCH's approach to interventional cardiology, you may be up within a few hours and home on the same day of the procedure. No scars. Less pain. Shorter recovery.

In addition to cardiac catheterization, interventional cardiology includes the opening of blocked of blood vessels outside of the heart, generally in the legs or kidney, that might be causing heart symptoms.  Such peripheral vascular procedures reduce the risks of a heart attack or stroke. Learn more about Vascular Services at NCH   

Cardiac catheterization procedures include:

  • Elective Angioplasty - If you have experienced heart-related symptoms, undergone non-invasive tests and/or tried medication for weeks without improvement, cardiac catheterization is the next step in helping to diagnose your situation. Specifically, with cardiac catheterization, your doctor will go inside your body using thin tubes that enter at the wrist or groin and connect to the heart. By assessing the severity of coronary artery disease and the degree of obstruction, a coronary angiogram helps to determine if a patient is amenable to balloon angioplasty and stenting.  This procedure is done throughout the week at NCH, offering quick recovery and effective results.
  • Emergency Angioplasty - In an emergency situation, such as after a heart attack (acute myocardial infarction), you doctor uses angioplasty to open a coronary artery that was narrowed or blocked during a heart attack.  This narrowing or blockage might be caused by a blood clot, fat and calcium build-up.  Angioplasty under this situation involves the removal of clots and deployment of stents or balloons through a small hole into a major artery.  This procedure opens up the artery and increases blood flow to the heart.  It is the gold standard for care related to a heart attack.
  • Assessment of Structural Heart Abnormalities - If cardiac symptoms indicate a possible valve abnormality or problems related to blood circulation within the lungs, your physician may conduct a test to measure the pressure related to blood flow in a major artery, heart and lungs to help determine any potential issues related to the oxygen delivery to the heart.  A decrease in oxygen to the heart can damage your heart muscle, reducing its ability to pump efficiently.  The opening of blocked arteries ensures oxygenated blood reaches your heart.
  • Intravascular Ultrasound (IVUS) -  Medical imaging methodology using a specially designed catheter with a miniaturized ultrasound probe attached to the end of the catheter.  It enables cardiologists to actually look inside your arteries to determine the degree of narrowing.  While angiography shows a two-dimensional interior image of the coronary arteries, the addition of IVUS shows a more detailed image to include the layers of the artery wall.

Our approach is unique

What makes NCH unique is the use of radial catheterization technique (through the artery in the wrist) for coronary intervention.  Through access of the artery on the wrist, many of our physicians can diagnose and treat heart disease and peripheral vascular disease that lead to heart attack or stroke.   This approach has less pain, lower risk of bleeding and quicker recovery as compared to other other catheterization approaches.

Additionally our Pre- and Post-Procedure Unit (PPPU) focuses on safety and your comfort.  With private rooms, dedicated nursing staff and close monitoring, we help you return home the same day.  

  • Private rooms for patients before and after procedures that require sedation
  • A dedicated nursing staff carefully monitors patients
  • Patient education of the procedure and on discharge instructions 
  • Focus on the next steps in the recovery process and the development of a follow-up plan

To ensure continuity of care, the PPPU is staffed with specially-trained registered nurses who have collaborative relationships with staff in other departments, including the Cardiac Cath Lab, Radiology and Interventional Radiology, and Cardiac Diagnostics.

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Interventional Cardiology Physician Leadership

Our multidisciplinary cardiovascular team is comprised of experts in cardiac specialties including: cardiologists, cardiovascular surgeons, vascular surgeons, thoracic surgeons, interventional radiologists, advanced practice nurses and physicians assistants. We work together to assess a patients needs and ensure a detailed care plan is developed for each patient.

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NCH Team Member

Stephen M. Zaacks, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.S.C.A.I.

Medical Director, Interventional Cardiology/Cath Lab

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