Many people who experience symptoms of heart problems may be asked to have a cardiac catheterization performed. Whether after admission to the hospital or as an outpatient, a 'heart cath' is the most conclusive procedure available to accurately diagnose coronary artery disease.
Your cardiologist will create a care plan based on the results of your catheterization. This may include prescription medications, balloon angioplasty, stent placement or even surgery.
No matter what recommendations your cardiologist makes, you can be certain that cardiac catheterization is a well established, reliable method of accurately identifying blockages and other problems in the heart.
What Happens During A Catheterization?
During the procedure a small hollow tube (a sheath) is placed into an artery, usually in your leg. Though your leg will be locally numbed, you may feel some discomfort as the tube is put in place.
The physician will insert a long, very thin catheter into the sheath. A video monitor will allow the physician to watch the catheter move through the body to your heart.
The cardiologist injects dye into the coronary arteries and records the dye as it travels through the vascular areas of the heart. By observing the movement of the dye, the cardiologist can identify blockages or abnormalities in the flow of blood to the heart. The cardiologist will record the dye at several angles, ensuring that accurate data is obtained.
The process is repeated on the left ventricle, the pumping chamber of the heart. This allows the physician to record and evaluate the strength and effectiveness of the heart muscle.
The catheterization generally takes less than an hour but you may be on bed rest for 2 to 8 hours afterwards to ensure that the artery is stable after the procedure. There may be discomfort in your leg once the sheath is removed.
Drug-eluting Coronary Stent
Advanced preparation and a history of successful innovation put physicians at Lutheran Hospital in a position to treat patients with a revolutionary drug-eluting stent the day it became available.
Restenosis occurs when scar tissue forms over a bare metal stent placed to open arteries during balloon angioplasty. In some cases, the onset of this condition makes it necessary to treat the artery a second time.
The drug-eluting stent can dramatically reduce the risk of restenosis, which means that fewer patients with heart disease will need to endure a more invasive bypass surgery.