Heart disease & interventional cardiology

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 13, 2022

Your heart beats about 2.5 billion times over the average lifetime. It pushes millions of gallons of blood carrying oxygen, fuel, hormones and a host of essential cells throughout your body. Heart health is vital at every age.

Interventional Cardiology is an area of medicine that uses specialized imaging and other diagnostic techniques to evaluate the blood flow and pressure in coronary arteries and chambers of the heart. It is a subspecialty of cardiology dealing specifically with catheter-based treatments that have evolved including stent implantation in the arteries of heart and peripheral arteries such as the neck arteries, legs, arms and wherever atherosclerotic disease is causing problems symptom-wise for patients. Interventional cardiology is a non-surgical option that uses catheters and wires to repair damaged or weakened vessels, narrowed arteries, or other damaged structural parts of the heart. Common conditions treated through interventional cardiology include coronary artery disease and peripheral vascular disease.

Coronary artery disease develops when the major blood vessels that supply the heart with blood, oxygen and nutrients become damaged or diseased. Cholesterol-containing deposits, also known as atherosclerotic plaque, are usually to blame for this disease. The build-up of plaque causes coronary arteries to narrow, decreasing the blood flow to the heart. Eventually, patients will experience chest pain known as angina and shortness of breath. A severe blockage can cause a heart attack. This disease builds up over decades, and you may not notice a problem until you have a significant blockage or a heart attack. Focusing on a healthier lifestyle can make all the difference.

Heart valve disease develops when one or more of the valves in the heart doesn’t work properly. The heart has four valves that help the blood flow in the right direction. If one or more of these valves doesn’t open or close properly, the normal flow of blood gets disrupted. Some people may not experience symptoms for years. Signs and symptoms may include abnormal sounds (heart murmurs), fatigue and fainting, swelling of ankles or feet, shortness of breath and irregular heartbeats.  Transcutaneous valve implant procedures are now available for many patients that previously required open heart surgery.  This evolving field has rapidly evolved, and many patients are now treated without open surgical procedures which is a benefit resulting in shorter recovery times and less problems with wound healing.

Peripheral vascular disease is a common circulatory problem in which the narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to a patient’s limbs, usually the legs, causing leg pain when walking. Peripheral vascular disease is also a sign of a more widespread accumulation of fatty deposits or plaque and is often treated by exercising and eating a healthier diet.

Patients with risk factors for coronary artery disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, tobacco use, diabetes, or a family history of heart disease, should speak with their doctor. If you have signs or symptoms, see your doctor about getting tested.

Lastly, call 911 immediately or your local emergency number if you or someone you know suspects a heart attack. If you do not have access to emergency medical services, have someone drive you or your loved one to the nearest hospital.


Dr. Mark Gonzalez received his medical degree from the University of Texas Medical School in Houston, Texas. He completed his internship at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and residency at Scripps Clinic/Green Hospital in La Jolla, Calif. He completed his fellowship in cardiology at University of Arizona in Tucson Arizona and interventional cardiology training at Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Dr. Gonzalez is board-certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and has been on staff at Ochsner since August 2020. Dr. Gonzalez specializes in general cardiology and interventional cardiology. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Gonzalez at Ochsner Health Center – River Parishes, 502 Rue de Santé in LaPlace, please call 985-652-3500 or schedule online at Ochsner.org.  He sees also sees patients at St. Charles Parish Hospital, Ochsner St. Anne Hospital and Ochsner Health Center – Kenner.