Treating Heart Disease

The Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center has a complete range of services to treat heart and vascular diseases. This includes today’s most advanced medical approaches as well as interventional procedures using angioplasty and stenting, and a full range of surgical options, including the implantation of pacing devices, cardiac ablation procedures and open heart surgery.

Interventional Procedures

  • Angiography is the gold standard for diagnosing heart disease and detecting a blockage. During an angiogram, our specially trained, board-certified physicians insert a catheter into a large artery and thread it into the heart through the aorta. A special dye is then injected and an x-ray camera is used to take detailed moving pictures of the blood flow to the heart.
  • Angioplasty is one of the most widely used interventional treatment techniques for opening blockages in the coronary arteries. The cardiologist guides a catheter, containing a balloon, to a narrowed coronary artery and inflates the balloon that in turn, dilates the artery allowing blood to flow easily again. Small, coiled stents are used at the site of the coronary blockage so that the artery stays open and permits the blood to flow smoothly. Drug-coated stents are also used to directly treat the blood vessel walls and reduce the incidence of scarring and re-closure.
  • Primary Coronary Intervention – Stopping a Heart Attack in Its Tracks
    UConn cardiologists use techniques which allow them to perform angioplasty and stenting during a heart attack, so that the blocked artery causing the attack can be opened quickly. These techniques, which are evolving through a joint research effort with other area hospitals, are also used to deliver a variety of medications and devices directly to the arterial wall to dissolve or remove clots and keep blockages from recurring.

Surgical Procedures

UConn’s surgical team includes highly skilled surgeons, cardiologists, nurses and other caregivers who provide excellent care before, during and after surgery.

  • Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting involves grafting a vein from the leg or an artery from the chest or lower arm onto the blocked artery, bypassing the clogged area.
  • Peripheral Arterial Bypass Surgery involves bypassing the diseased part of an artery. A vein from another part of the body or a synthetic blood vessel is used to restore blood flow to the legs and feet.
  • Mitral and Aortic Valve Repair or Replacement Surgery is offered by an experienced surgical team that corrects all forms of valvular disease, including mitral regurgitation, aortic regurgitation and aortic stenosis, and repairs and replaces narrowed or leaky valves.
  • Permanent Pacemaker is inserted into the patient’s heart and upper chest to provide a reliable heartbeat when the patient’s own rhythm is too fast, too slow, or irregular.
  • Implantable Cardiac Defibrillator is inserted into a patient’s heart and chest to send out a small amount of electricity when needed to jolt heart rhythm back to normal.
  • Cardiac Ablation involves cauterizing tissue in the area of the heart that is causing the heart rhythm problem, often using radiofrequencies. This procedure completely cures problems in about 95 percent of cases, restoring normal heart function and eliminating the need for open heart surgery or long-term drug therapies.
  • Vascular Surgery, including minimally invasive endovascular techniques, interventional radiology procedures and open surgical procedures are offered to treat a wide range of vascular problems. These include abdominal aortic aneurysms; peripheral arterial disease, including blockages in the legs; blockages to the carotid artery and venous diseases such as varicose veins and deep vein thrombosis.

Innovations for Better Care

To promote faster healing and shorter hospital stays, more than half of the angioplasties performed at the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center involve radial artery access procedures. This means our highly-skilled interventional cardiologists use the artery in the wrist, rather than the groin, to gain access to the blood vessels of the heart.

Studies have shown that this technique leads to a quicker recovery and allows patients to get back on their feet sooner than traditional angioplasty using the groin artery.

UConn is one of only a few cardiology centers in New England with expertise in this technique.