Heart Procedures

Boulder Community Health provides a comprehensive range of treatments for heart disease. Below is a list of the most common procedures:


A catheter based technique that uses water under high pressure to clear clot from coronary arteries.

Angioplasty (percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty)

Using cardiac catheterization, a tiny balloon is placed inside the artery at the site of a blockage. As the balloon is inflated, it compresses plaque against the artery walls restoring proper blood flow. View a angioplasty procedure.

Atherectomy (rotational atherectomy, also rotablator)

A tiny rotating shaver is mounted on a cardiac catheter which pulverizes harmful plaque and clots in the arteries.

Beta-Cath System

Stents used to hold artery walls open sometimes become clogged with new tissue growth, requiring the patient to undergo repeated invasive procedures to reopen the artery. The beta-cath system procedure allows physicians to deliver a highly concentrated dose of beta radiation around the stented area to reduce scar tissue buildup and keep the artery open.

Bypass Surgery (coronary artery bypass graft or "cabbage")

When vessels supplying blood to the heart are blocked, veins are taken from the legs and used to bypass the blockage and reroute the blood. This improves the supply of oxygen and blood to the heart. View a bypass procedure.

Cardiac Catheterization

This is a procedure for diagnosing coronary artery disease. A long, narrow flexible tube called a catheter is inserted into the groin or arm and guided to the heart and arteries. A special "dye" is introduced through the catheter that allows the doctor to see on an x-ray screen the shape and size of the arteries and the location of any blockages.

Echocardiogram (cardiac ultrasound)

This non-invasive test uses sound waves to create pictures of the heart muscles, chambers and valves. Physicians can look for congenital heart defects and bad heart valves, and measure any damage to the heart muscle from a heart attack.

Electrocardiogram (EKG)

This test measures the electrical activity of the heart muscle to detect intermittent or irregular heart beats.

Electrophysiology Study

This invasive test measures the heart's electrical signals to see if the heart has the tendency to shift into potentially dangerous slow or fast rhythms. The heart is paced in various ways to study the speed and location of the flow of electricity within the heart. Rhythm disorders can be treated with medication, pacemakers, defibrillators or by using catheters to ablate or destroy the small area of the heart's tissue that is causing the rhythm problem.

Enhanced External Counterpulsation (EECP)

This non-invasive outpatient procedure is designed to relieve angina by improving circulation in areas of the heart deprived of adequate blood supply. EECP creates new routes for blood to detour around clogged arteries through a series of treatments using inflation and deflation cuffs attached to a person's lower extremities.

Intravascular Ultrasound (IVUS)

This technique is used to further diagnose blockages in the coronary arteries. By using ultrasound probes mounted on catheters, the physician can see arteries from the inside and visualize any blockages.

Minimally Invasive Heart Valve Surgery

Also known as Port Access, this new procedure offers a number of advantages over conventional open heart surgery including shorter recovery and far less pain.

Pacemaker Implants

People suffering from a slowing or irregular heart beat have a pacemaker implanted to maintain a regular heart rate.

Resynchronization Therapy

For the treatment of heart failure. The physician implants in the upper chest a pacemaker-type device that has three protruding wires with tiny electrodes attached. The wires are manuevered through the veins to the heart. Tiny electrical impulses are then delivered to the heart muscle to control errant contractions so that the four heart chambers can beat in concert.

Stent Procedure

A tiny stainless steel mesh tube is mounted on a balloon catheter and inserted into the artery after the artery has been reopened. The stent acts as a scaffold to help hold the artery open to improve blood flow and relieve symptoms cause by a blockage. View a stent procedure.

Treadmill Stress Test (cardiac stress test)

Patients walk on a treadmill while their EKG and blood pressure are recorded to determine if their symptoms are caused by heart disease.

Valve Replacement Surgery

Heart valves can be damaged by birth defects, infection, rheumatic fever or scarlet fever. Over time, scarring or thickening can make the valves harder to open or can make them close all the way. The defective valve is replaced with a prosthetic heart valve to improve the heart's function. View a valve replacement procedure.

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