Cardiac catheterization is a procedure that is used to diagnose and treat conditions impacting the heart. A flexible, slender tube – a catheter – is introduced into a vein or an artery. A site within the groin, arm, or neck is used as well. The tube is moved through blood vessels until reaching the heart. Once it is in place, your doctor uses it to conduct diagnostic tests.
Who Would Need Cardiac Catheterization?
Cardiac catheterization is an early step in diagnosing patients of any age who have signs of heart problems. Although it tends to be performed on people aged 45 and older, it may be required by patients at any time in life depending on the symptoms they present.
Why is Cardiac Catheterization Performed?
Cardiac catheterization is a vital part of determining the presence and extent of a wide range of heart problems. It also helps facilitate several treatments. A number of situations may call for use of a cardiac catheter:
- Locate blockages in the arteries or narrowing that would contribute to chest pain
- Measure oxygen availability and blood pressure levels in various parts of the heart
- Check the pumping function of the right or left side of the heart
- Safely acquire a sample of cardiac tissue from within the heart
- Diagnose congenital heart defects (those present since birth)
- Pinpoint and evaluate problems with the valves of the heart
As part of a course of treatment, cardiac catheterization may be called for during angioplasty, repair of congenital heart defects, repair or replacement of heart valves, ablation, and others.
How to Prepare for Cardiac Catheterization
Your doctor will let you know if you need to take any special steps to prepare for the procedure. Most patients will be asked to do the following:
- Don’t eat or drink anything for at least six hours prior to the test
- Temporarily discontinue the use of blood-thinning medications
- Bring all medication and supplement bottles with you to the test
- Ask your doctor about sedating medication if you feel anxious
Prior to the procedure, your blood pressure and heart rate will be checked. You will be asked to remove jewelry and any items that may interfere with diagnostic imaging of the heart. You may also be asked to use the bathroom to ensure your bladder is empty prior to the examination.
Recovery Process for Cardiac Catheterization
Recovery from cardiac catheterization usually takes a few hours. This is mainly because you will need time for any anesthesia used, to wear off. Most patients will spend about an hour in a special recovery room.
After that hour, patients are transferred to a standard hospital or outpatient room where the plastic sheath used to support the catheter will be removed. If the groin was used as the site of insertion, you will need to lie flat for several hours after the procedure to reduce bleeding.
You will be able to eat and drink immediately after the procedure but may be required to stay overnight or longer if additional treatments are planned.
Benefits of Cardiac Catheterization
Cardiac catheterization is a crucial step in the diagnosis and treatment of several heart health concerns. It provides extensive access to the heart that allows for fast, accurate assessment of its function. It is extremely safe for most patients and entails a few major risks.
Most patients will be free of discomfort and able to move around normally within just a few hours. It may take 2-3 days before you can return to strenuous activity.
To find out more about cardiac catheterization and if this procedure is right for you, Heart Vein NYC can help. To find out more, contact Heart Vein NYC.