Interventional cardiologists and standard cardiologists both work in an internal medicine subspecialty. The focus is on issues relating to the cardiovascular system and heart. The duties and training requirements for each career is different. An interventional cardiologist performs advanced procedures requiring additional training. For this reason, their salary is higher than a cardiologist.
Both interventional cardiologists and standard cardiologists spend their time with patients. More time is spent by cardiologists in medical offices to help prevent the progression of cardiovascular conditions in their patients through the use of preventative strategies. Cardiologists are responsible for the identification of serious conditions, often referring patients for treatment with an interventional cardiologist.
This means the majority of time for an interventional cardiologist is spent performing a variety of procedures and tests for their patients including balloon angioplasties. Interventional cardiologists consult with their patients both before and after performing a procedure. For this reason, the majority of their work takes place within a hospital.
A cardiologist offers patients suffering from peripheral vascular disease, heart valve disease and coronary artery disease the best possible chance for survival. Patients should be fully informed regarding all of the different treatment options available for their specific condition. The most typical treatments for cardiovascular diseases include medications, exercise, quitting smoking and dieting.
In some cases, the symptoms are unable to be counteracted using just these measures. This means the only option remaining is surgery.
Interventional cardiologists are required to complete an interventional cardiology fellowship for a period of three years after finishing medical school. An internal medicine residency is also required. An interventional cardiologist often works during the evenings or days on both weekends and weekdays. Some of the most commonly treated conditions include blocked arteries and heart disease.
Members of this specialty need to have good leadership and communication skills to work effectively with other professionals during the performance of patient procedures. Dexterity and physical stamina are both beneficial because cardiologists are required to stand for long periods of time while performing a variety of procedures demanding precision. The basic job requirements include:
- Performing procedures including repairing valves and placing stents into arteries
- Reviewing patient referrals
- Performing patient follow-ups after treatment
- Explaining potential procedures to patients
An invasive cardiologist performs invasive procedures to diagnose and access issues related to the heart. Two of the most frequently performed invasive procedures are stenting and angioplasty. Both procedures require a femoral arterial catheterization. To perform an angioplasty procedure, a small balloon is attached to a catheter. The cardiologist then uses the femoral artery for guidance.
Once the balloon is inflated, the plaque is pushed up against the clogged vein. After the vein has opened, a stent is used for the delivery of medication to the area. The stent holds the vein open permanently. The difficulty of invasive cardiology is the groin area is used for femoral access. This can result in complications including longer recovery periods and increased pain or discomfort for the patient. Rare complications include:
- Acute limb ischemia
- Retroperitoneal bleeding
Cardiologists are required to complete an internal medicine residency once a medical degree is earned. After completing the residency, the cardiologist must complete a two-year cardiology fellowship. The typical role of a cardiologist is non-invasive. The focus is placed on diagnostic testing, treating patients by recommending changes in lifestyle including diet to improve the condition and prescribing medications.
Individuals training for a career as a non-interventional, invasive cardiologist often perform similar work. The difference is they are also trained to find arterial blockages by performing medical tests. A non-interventional, invasive cardiologist does not perform many of the same procedures as an interventional cardiologist. An interventional cardiologist receives additional training including:
- Graduate from medical school
- Complete a three-year interventional cardiology fellowship
- Complete an internal medicine residency
- Complete a cardiology fellowship
Responsibilities of Invasive Cardiologists Vs. Non-Invasive Cardiologists
Both invasive and non-invasive cardiologists spend a lot of time helping their patients. The focus of a cardiologist is determining the best preventive strategy to help prevent the occurrence of a cardiovascular issue for their patients. Cardiologists often encounter patients suffering from a severe condition. In this instance, a referral to an interventional cardiologist is generally provided for further treatment.
An interventional cardiologist usually spends the majority of their time performing patient testing. In most cases, a cardiologist acts as a non-invasive cardiologist. Their main focus is placed on the treatment of their patients and running all necessary pre-diagnostic testing. Any individual receiving the training required for an invasive cardiologist often performs similar work with their patients.
The difference is the individual is trained to run medical testing to locate arterial blockages. The procedures performed by non-interventional, invasive cardiologists are different from the testing offered by an interventional cardiologist. This testing is more complex and requires additional schooling and training. A non-invasive cardiologist generally has the following responsibilities.
- Assessing the cardiovascular, health care and heart issues of their patients
- Performing cardiac catheterization
- Referring patients to the required specialist
- Interpreting the results of various tests including EKGs
The responsibilities of invasive cardiologists are not only different, but they are more advanced as well. After completing extensive training, an interventional cardiologist usually works in a hospital. The individual may need to go to work on the weekend or in the middle of the night when there is an emergency. Interventional cardiologists can offer treatment to patients with blocked arteries or heart disease.
Interventional cardiologists need to have exceptional leadership skills and interaction to work efficiently with medical specialists during numerous procedures. They spend long periods of time standing on their feet, so physical fitness is important. An interventional cardiologist must be precise in everything they do. Their main job responsibilities include:
- Checking on patients once treatment has been completed
- Explaining the details of the necessary procedure to their patients
- Performing a variety of procedures related to the heart
- Reviewing patient referrals to determine the best course of action