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Cardiac Catheterization 

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An Overview of cardiac catheterization

Cardiac catheterization is a well-known invasive imaging procedure that is performed in order to diagnose and treat multiple cardiovascular conditions. It is highly efficient and helps determining critical heart conditions such as presence of coronary artery disease, valve disease or disease of the aorta. In addition, it also helps in evaluating heart muscle function and need of interventional procedure or coronary artery bypass graft, or surgery.

Why cardiac catheterization is performed

Cardiac catheterization is the best known way of diagnosing heart and its blood vessels. The procedure is done to get information about patient's heart or its blood vessels. In addition, it may also be performed to check the need for heart surgery. The procedure is also performed to provide a way to treating multiple critical heart conditions. In general, the conditions that are often diagnosed and evaluated by Cardiac catheterization are congenital hear defects, hear valves complicates, coronary artery disease, heart failure and cardiomyopathy.

Cardiac catheterization is also performed to treat other heart conditions. It may help extensively in repairing certain types of heart defects and stenotic, a stuck heart valve. It also treats blocked arteries or grafts in the heart.


How cardiac catheterization is performed

The procedure of cardiac catheterization.

  • Carther which is a long thin tube is inserted in an artery or vein through the groin, neck or arm.
  • The carther is further passed through your blood vessels to your heart. Before puncturing, medication is applied to numb the area.
  • Doctors then take up the catheter into the heart through the use of live X-rays as a guide. The steps are performed very carefully.
  • Once done, the doctor then starts the diagnostic tests as part of a cardiac catheterization.
The tests will allow doctors to take blood samples from the heart, examine arteries, measure oxygen in different areas of your heart, determine pressure and blood flow in the heart's chambers and conduct a biopsy on the muscle of the heart.


Preparation for the procedure

Cardiac catheterization may demand some patients an overnight stay at the hospital for proper observation, however, not all patients require this. Secondly, patients are not supposed to eat or drink anything at least 8 to 10 hours before the test. Patient must carry all his medications. Your doctor must know about your allergies and other health problems before the test. Kidney tests should be performed prior to the test since X-rays and dyes used in the test can hamper kidney functions. And lastly, patient must remain calm and composed. Dealing with any kind of anxiety can get troublesome for the patient during the test. However, mild sedatives are given to highly nervous patients. In addition, if you are pregnant or are trying to get pregnant then inform your doctor about it, before going for the test.


Possible risk associated with cardiac catheterization

Your doctor will inform you about all the health risks expected to occur because of this test. Major health risks are rare and almost negligible if the test is performed by an experienced team. Some risks associated with Cardiac catheterization are infections, bleeding, blood clots, irregular heart beats, bruising, tearing of tissues of artery and heart and allergy due to dye. Major risks involve problems of stroke, heart attack and kidney damage.


Instructions need to follow after the procedure

Patients having the puncture done at the arm or wrist are normally allowed to walk around the observation room. However, they are not supposed to bend their arm or put any kind of pressure on it. Medication is given to minimize the pain. Moreover, if patients suffers from the following condition, nurses and doctors should be informed immediately:

  • Pain or bleeding in the insertion site
  • Rash or hives
  • Tingling or numbness in the fingers
  • Irregular heart rhythm
  • Rash / hives

Patients need to drink a good amount of water to remove contrast medium from the body. In addition, patients are supposed to keep on the bandage and dressing in place until instructed, avoid exercising and lifting heavy weights.

Written by: Healthplus24 team
Date last updated: November 05, 2012

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