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Cardiac Catheterization

A cardiac catheterization is a procedure to examine how well your heart is working. It’s commonly used to diagnose and treat a variety of cardiovascular conditions, including:

  • Atherosclerosis: A gradual clogging of the arteries by fatty materials and other substances.
  • Cardiomyopathy: An enlargement of the heart due to thickening or weakening of the heart.
  • Congenital heart disease: Defects in one or more heart structures that occur during fetal development, such as a ventricular septal defect (hole in the wall between the two lower chambers of the heart)
  • Congestive heart failure: The heart has become too weak to properly pump blood, causing fluid buildup (congestion) in the blood vessels and lungs, and edema (swelling) in the feet, ankles, and other parts of the body
  • Valvular heart disease: Malfunction of one or more of the heart valves that can affect blood flow within the heart

A cardiac catheterization may also be performed if you have recently experienced chest pain or angina, shortness of breath, dizziness or fatigue.

The cardiac catheterization procedure is performed in the hospital with the goal of getting pictures of your heart muscle and arteries. After you are given a sedative medication to help you relax, a catheter is inserted into a blood vessel in your groin or arm. The catheter is carefully guided through the vessel until it reaches your coronary arteries. Using a special X-ray machine to guide the movements of the catheter, your doctor advances the catheter into the arteries of the heart. X-ray dye is passed through the catheter into your arteries so your cardiologist can see how blood is flowing through your heart. Images of the dye flowing through the heart’s chambers, valves and vessels are displayed on a screen during the short procedure.

Different camera angles are used to get a complete picture of your coronary arteries. This diagnostic procedure normally lasts about 30 minutes. When the procedure is completed, the catheter is removed.

To learn more about cardiac catheterization or other cardiac care procedures, contact the Summa Health Heart and Vascular Institute now.


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If your situation is an emergency, call 911.