Procedures and treatments: When help is needed

When lifestyle changes and medication are not enough

Dr. Pir Shah

Heart conditions can often be controlled by medication, diet, and  lifestyle changes, but intervention is sometimes necessary. Diagnoses that require intervention generally fall into five categories: coronary artery disease, valvular heart disease, electrical disturbances, congestive heart failure, and peripheral vascular disease. Diagnoses do not always require invasive procedures, and the heart care specialists at Tyler Heart Institute can help you choose the best plan of action for your heart health.

Conditions that may require intervention

Coronary artery disease

Coronary artery disease occurs when the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle become hardened and narrowed. If diagnostic testing reveals coronary artery disease, your doctors will determine the severity of the problem and an appropriate strategy. Your cardiologist will likely recommend either open-heart surgery or less invasive intervention through catheterization.

Learn more about catheterization and open-heart surgery.

Valvular heart disease

The heart has four valves that open and close to let blood flow in only one direction when the heart contracts. A valvular disorder can occur when there is a leak - when a valve is allowing blood to flow in the wrong direction, or when a valve is not allowing enough blood to flow though. Valve problems are usually addressed through open-heart surgery.

Learn more about valve surgery.

Electrical disturbances

Unlike other muscles in the body which take direction from the brain, the heart runs on autopilot. Electrical signals keep the heart contracting in a specific rhythm that keeps the blood flowing at the right pace and in the right direction. If the electrical signals are not properly synchronized, it can cause problems. There are special procedures that can diagnose and treat these rhythm disorders.

Learn more about electrophysiology procedures

Congestive heart failure

When someone has congestive heart failure, the heart no longer pumps as strongly as it should. The muscle is weaker and less blood is being delivered with each beat. Weaker blood flow means your body and organs get less oxygen and nutrients, causing overall fatigue and weakness. This condition also causes increased pressure within the heart, and the body begins to retain salt and water. You may experience shortness of breath, too, if the lungs begin to fill with fluid. Depending on what is causing the condition, congestive heart failure can be treated with medicine instead of surgery.

Common causes of congestive heart failure include:

  • Heart muscle disorder that results in a change or weakening of the heart muscle
  • Coronary artery disease, often complicated by a previous heart attack
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart valve disease

Peripheral vascular disease

Peripheral vascular disease refers to potentially dangerous blockages in the blood vessels outside the heart and brain. It is similar to coronary artery disease, only instead of blocking blood flow to the heart, it blocks blood flow to vital organs such as the kidneys or stomach, or to an arm or a leg. Catheterization is sometimes used to treat peripheral vascular disease. Learn more.