Ask the Experts

Catheterization Gives Clues to the Heart

dr. john respass
Ali Hammoud, MD, FACC
More about Dr. Hammoud

What is the purpose of catheterization?
Cardiac Catheterization is the gold standard for evaluation of coronary artery disease and other heart conditions. Catheterization can determine heart function, coronary artery blockages, and measure pressure and oxygen levels in the chambers of the heart. The catheter, which is threaded through an artery until it reaches the heart, allows the doctor to look at the chambers of the heart, view the coronary arteries, and determine the treatments needed.

 

What may lead to catheterization?
Doctors often recommend a catheterization when they need more information. If the symptoms are pointing toward a coronary artery blockage or dysfunction of a heart valve, catheterization can give a great deal of information. Catheterization is used regularly when heart procedures are being done as well. These include: the repair or replacement of heart valves, angioplasty/stent placement, and balloon valvuloplasty.

 

What are the risks of catheterization?
Now that the catheter is often inserted in the wrist rather than the groin, the risks of catheterization are relatively low. One in 1,000 can suffer a heart attack or stroke. There is a very small possibility of death, which is the least likely outcome. In most cases, catheterizations are done on an outpatient basis with no negative outcomes.

 

How much downtime can a patient expect after a catheterization?
Since there is no area that needs to heal after a catheterization, the downtime from the procedure is almost nothing. Most patients can go back to work or normal activities after only a day or two. If the tests discover an issue, the downtime is related to the secondary procedure, which will be performed to correct the coronary arteries and/or any valve issue. Catheterization is regularly used to rule out heart issues rather than find one. In these cases, the outcome gives a patient confidence that the heart is healthy and regular activities can be resumed without incident.

 

How has technology helped change catheterization?
Over the past decade, catheterization has become even more accurate thanks to new technologies. The smaller instruments make the procedures safer. Smaller instruments also mean instruments can be manipulated more easily. This means the data gathered provides doctors with a clearer picture of the patient’s needs and enables doctors to determine the best procedure plan.


Northern Duchess Hospital
The Heart Center, a division of Hudson Valley Cardiovascular Practice, P.C.
33 Grand Street
Kingston, NY 12401
845-339-8700
TTY /Accessibility: (800) 421-1220
www.healthquest.org/heartcenter


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