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Interventional cardiology, medical excellence

Cardiology is one of the fields in which the Clinique des Grangettes excels. The hospital provides a full range of care for all cardiological and vascular pathologies. Diagnoses are performed by specialists with access to a complete technological platform: echocardiography, stress tests, myocardial scintigraphy, coronary scanners and cardiac MRI. If a problem is detected, the Clinique’s cardiology team can start a course of modern and well-adapted treatments.

There are two departments at the Clinique des Grangettes that share the outstanding skills of several cardiologists: cardia rhythmology (see article page 18) and interventional cardiology. The latter discipline involves treating heart diseases using minimally invasive methods, i.e., ones that affect the organ in question the least. In the case of diseased coronary arteries (the ones feeding the heart), dilatation using a balloon is one approach (angioplasty).

The method consists in modifying a clogged or narrowed artery by inserting a stent, an expandable device designed to prevent the problem from repeating itself. The coronary arteries, much like the peripheral arteries – the arteries in the legs, for instance – can be affected by this kind of vascular stenosis. More invasive techniques, like surgical bypasses, are still done nowadays in the field of cardiovascular medicine, even though they do not involve nearly as many patients as before.

“A lot of progress has been made these past ten years when it comes to angioplasties,” says one of the specialists in interventional cardiology and angiology at the Clinique. “It just happens to be one of the most used interventions in the world.” Of course, the field of cardiovascular medicine is one of the most studied ones, because it concerns a very large number of patients. “Heart diseases are among the most frequent pathologies in the western world. Our lifestyles tend to be at the root of this type of illness,” another specialist in interventional cardiology explains.

At the Clinique des Grangettes, the team of cardiologists performs an ever greater number of minimally invasive interventions, which reveals the extent of the problem. Over 1000 interventions were done at the Clinique last year, and twenty to thirty stents are inserted on average per day in Geneva. A sedentary lifestyle, nutrition, poor life choices, and the aging population are all contributing causes for the growing prevalence of vascular stenosis. The problem generally arises after the age of fifty, but it can sometimes occur in younger individuals. There are obviously risk factors that make some individuals more predisposed to these pathologies than others. There are genetic factors, for instance, or high blood pressure, the use of tobacco, diabetes and heightened cholesterol levels. At any rate – and luckily – current techniques to treat “clogged” arteries are very well developed and there are few complications to worry about.

The operation does not require that much time, one to two hours at the most, the cardiologist performs the intervention by going into the wrist or the groin. So the surgery does not mean the patient has to rest for a long period or stay away from work. Most of them don’t even experience any post-operative discomfort. The person is simply “healed” and feels immediate relief. When is the best time to schedule an operation? Some drugs are able to relieve the pain temporarily, or at least the discomfort that some people experience, so the surgery can be put off by a few weeks or months. On the other hand, in more serious cases, if arteries suddenly get clogged, immediate surgery will be necessary.

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