What Is Cardiac Catheterization And Why You Might Need It


Every year approximately 610,000 people die from heart disease, in the United States. Heart disease affects both men and women, accounting for nearly one in every four deaths. Because of its massive prevalence, it is increasingly important to learn as much as you can about your risk for heart disease, as soon as possible. When your cardiologist recommends cardiac catheterization, the goal is to get information.

Cardiac catheterization is a tool used to diagnose potential heart problems, like heart disease. This procedure is typically performed at cardiovascular centers and is relatively low risk.

Important Things To Know About The Cardiac Catheterization Procedure


  • The procedure is invasive

    Invasive is such a scary word, but it’s truly the best word for the procedure. Your doctor will use cardiac imaging tools to go inside your body to look at your blood vessels. They will not be going directly into your heart, but rather they will look at an artery which is directly connected to it (typically the femoral artery in your thigh or the radial artery in your arm). Once they have the catheter tube in place they will use it to guide the camera into your blood vessel to perform the diagnosis.


  • This is an outpatient procedure

    Once you’ve completed the surgery you will be sent home. Your doctor will include instructions on how to care for the insertion site. Most of the time it will be bandages well and will need to keep it covered for the first couple of days. Expect some bruising around the site, and don’t worry if it starts to become slightly swollen and pink. If you have any concerns after your procedure it’s best to contact your doctor.


  • You may feel tired afterward

    If you lead an active lifestyle, you may want to take it easy for a couple of days. Based on the wound site you will find that certain activities will be difficult while your body heals. Follow your doctor’s instructions on post-procedure activities, and keep an eye on your health.

Cardiac catheterization can show your doctor how at risk you are for a heart attack. This will give you the chance to avoid the heart surgeon by performing cardiac rehab instead. Cardiac rehab is generally a lifestyle change which can improve your heart health. By becoming more active and eating healthier you may be able to avoid an unwanted emergency room visit.

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