And why is my doctor recommending it?

Cardiac catheterization often referred to as heart catheterization is the insertion of a catheter into a chamber or vessel of the heart. This procedure is done for both diagnostic and interventional purposes.

This is a common procedure that is minimally invasive and helps your cardiologist determine and even treat certain cardiovascular problems such as clogged arteries or irregular heartbeats. Heart catheterization may provide your doctor with valuable information about your heart muscle, heart valves and blood vessels in your heart.

Alpine Cardiology Formation of a blood clotWhat are the risks?

Heart catheterization is usually safe, and people rarely have complications. One million catheterizations take place in the United States yearly, less than 1% have a major complication during the procedure for diagnostic reasons. A small percentage may have minor problems. Some may develop bruises at the insertion site, and some may feel nauseous from the contrast dye or get itchy and/or develop hives. Your cardiologist will discuss the risks and benefits of the procedure with you for your specific situation.

How do I prepare for the test?

Your healthcare team will provide instructions about what to eat and drink before the test. Usually, you are not to eat or drink for 6-8 hours before the procedure.

Tell your healthcare provider about any medicines including OTC, herbs, and vitamins that you take. Do not stop taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

Let your healthcare team about any allergies you may have. Especially iodine, shellfish, latex, or rubber products. Medicines like penicillin or x-ray dye.

Cardiac Catheterization may be done to diagnosis or treat:

  • Coronary artery disease
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Heart failure
  • Heart valve disease
  • Microvascular heart disease

Alpine Cardiology Heart CatheterizationWill my cardiologist be doing the procedure?

Most like it will be done by a specially trained cardiologist and team in a cardiac catheterization laboratory. Talk with your doctor to find out who will be doing your procedure.

How is the procedure done?

Hearth catheterization is an outpatient procedure. During the procedure you will be awake, but a small amount of sedation will be given to keep you comfortable. You should not feel any pain but may feel pressure at times.

A small, flexible, hollow tube (catheter) is put into your blood vessel in the arm, neck, or groin. The catheter is threaded through the blood vessel into the aorta and into the heart. Several tests may be done once the catheter is in place. Your doctor can place the tip of the catheter into various parts of the heart to measure the pressures within the heart chambers or take blood samples to measure oxygen levels.

The catheter can be guided into the coronary arteries (the vessels that carry blood to the heart muscle) and a contrast dye can be injected into them to check blood flow. This is called a coronary angiography.

Other treatments that may be done during or after the heart catheterization.

Alpine Cardiology - narrow and blocked arteryAngioplasty – Your doctor inflates a tiny balloon at the tip of the catheter. This helps improves blood flow through the artery by pressing any plaque buildup against the artery wall.

Stent Placement – A tiny metal mesh coil or tube is expanded at the end of the catheter inside an artery to keep it open.

Fraction Flow Reserve – This is a pressure management technique that is used in catheterization to see how much blockage is in an artery.

Intravascular Ultrasound (IVUS) – Using a computer and a transducer to send ultrasonic sound waves to create images of the blood vessels. Using this procedure can see and measure the inside of the blood vessels.

A Small Sample of Heart Tissue – This is called a biopsy and may be taken to examine under a microscope for abnormalities.

How long will I be in the hospital?

The procedure itself usually takes about 30 minutes. Preparation and recovery may add several hours to your time in the hospital. If your provider does an intervention such as angioplasty, that can take longer.

Depending on where the insertion site is (wrist, neck, or groin) you may either be able to walk around or asked to lie flat for a few hours. While in recovery you will be monitored for any symptom or side effects of the procedure.

You will need to drink plenty of liquids to clear the contrast material from your body. You may feel the need to urinate more frequently, this is normal.

Before you go home, you will be instructed in caring for your wound site, your acceptable activity level and follow-up care. They may talk with you about your treatment, including medications, diet, and future procedures.

Going Home

You will not be allowed to drive yourself home, bring a responsible drive with you for your procedure.

Most people are able to return to their normal activities the day after the procedure depending on any additional interventions that were done during the procedure.

Depending on the location the catheter was put into your body you will need to avoid strenuous activities for 2-5 days. Ask your healthcare provider when you can resume driving, exercise, bathing and returning to work.

Alpine Cardiology - Follow your doctor's instructionsContact your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • Fever or chills
  • Increased pain, redness, swelling, or bleeding or other drainage from the insertion site
  • Coolness, numbness or tingling, or other changes in the affected arm or leg
  • Chest pain or pressure, nausea or vomiting, profuse sweating, dizziness, or fainting

After Care

Your doctor will provide instructions after the procedure for your particular situation. Be sure to follow all instructions provided by your healthcare team.

Make sure to keep all of your follow-up appointments and keep taking your medicine unless instructed otherwise by your doctor.

Dr. Bobish

Heart catheterization can provide valuable information that your healthcare team can use to provide the treatment best for you. If coronary artery disease is found, you have the power to improve your health. Lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, diet and exercise can have a dramatic effect on your heart health.

Dr. Bobish and her team focus on preventative care and are here to support you. They provide patients with education as well as compassionate care and treatment. They are committed to keeping you healthy and heart smart! Request an appointment at 989-448-7002