If you have experienced heart problems or have been diagnosed with a heart condition, you can likely benefit from the procedures available in a cardiac catheterization lab. A cardiac catheterization is used to help physicians diagnose heart disease in patients. This specialized procedure helps them look at the interior workings of the arteries and how blood is pumped throughout the body.
How does the procedure work?
The physician begins by inserting a small, flexible tube–called a catheter–into a major artery in your arm or leg. It is then threaded up toward the heart, with the guidance of x-ray imaging. A special dye is dispersed in the artery, which allows the physician to properly locate where the problem is occurring. After the physician has gathered enough information, he or she will remove the catheter and apply pressure to the artery.
A number of tests and procedures can be accomplished during a cardiac catheterization. Among them are angioplasty, stenting, angiojet, peripheral vascular intervention, and the insertion of an internal pacemaker or implantable cardioverter-defibrillator.
How do I prepare for the procedure?
- Your physician will inform you of what you should and shouldn't eat before the procedure.
- Make sure you put together a travel bag of spare clothes in case you experience an overnight stay.
- Provide a list of all the medications you are currently on and have them readily available.
- If you have any unique allergies, such as to x-ray dyes or other substances that may be used in the procedure, please share this information with the specialist prior to the test.
Remember that it's very important to undergo a proper evaluation from your physician to determine if a cardiac cath lab test is necessary. Heart disease affects thousands of Americans each year. The sooner you're able to determine the condition, the better your chance of effective treatment.
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