New onset of chest discomfort or breathlessness. Back, neck, shoulder or jaw pain. Nausea or vomiting. Dizziness or weakness. These are some of the symptoms of coronary artery disease — a condition in which cholesterol-containing plaque builds up in artery walls and blocks the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your heart. They may also be early warning signs of a heart attack.
“Even if you feel relatively healthy, don’t ignore these symptoms,” warns interventional cardiologist David N. Bartov, MD, FACC, medical director of Overlook’s Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory. “Your health care provider may order a stress test, which will help determine whether you may be a candidate for cardiac catheterization and, if needed, coronary angioplasty and stenting.”
What Is Cardiac Catheterization and Angioplasty?
During a cardiac catheterization, the “gold standard” for diagnosing coronary artery disease, a small, straw-size sheath is inserted into a blood vessel (usually the radial or femoral artery). A long, thin, hollow tube called a catheter is inserted through the sheath and threaded through major blood vessels to the heart. By injecting a contrast dye into the catheter, cardiologists can detect narrowed or blocked arteries via fluoroscopy.
If a blockage is found, a tiny balloon can be delivered through the sheath, which when inflated pushes the plaque up against the wall of the artery to restore blood flow. A wire mesh coil, called a stent, is mounted on the balloon and acts as scaffolding to keep the artery open. This minimally invasive procedure, called angioplasty, can relieve a blockage within minutes after it’s discovered.
An Experienced Team Close to Home
Overlook’s Cardiac Catheterization Lab has been performing elective angioplasties since 2006 as part of its participation in the nationwide C-PORT-E clinical trial. Based upon the study’s conclusion that cath labs like Overlook’s could safely offer the minimally invasive procedure without on-site surgical backup, Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation last year allowing qualifying hospitals to perform nonemergency angioplasty.
“We were proud to help pave the way for this pioneering legislation, which brings improved access to advanced cardiac care to more New Jersey residents throughout the state’s community hospitals,” observes Dr. Bartov.
Last year alone, Overlook’s tight-knit team of interventional cardiologists, experienced nurses and cardiovascular technologists performed nearly 1,000 cardiac catheterizations and 415 coronary stent procedures.
“Like many Overlook staff members, we’ve been working together for a long time,” points out Carrie Redick, RN, MSN, NEA-BC, director of interventional cardiology, Atlantic Health System. “Our friendly, family-like atmosphere makes patients feel extra comfortable here.”