Cardiac catheterization is a test that shows if there are problems within your heart or if any of the arteries that supply your heart with blood are blocked. In this test, a tube called a catheter is inserted into an artery and guided to the heart. A special dye (which is visible by X-
BEFORE THE PROCEDURE
Bypass surgery. A blood vessel from another part of the body is used to bypass the blocked artery so more blood can get to the heart.
AREAS WHERE THE CATHETER MAY BE INSERTED
If your doctor determines that a non surgical procedure is needed, it may be done at the time of the catheterization, or you may be asked to return at another time for the procedure.
AFTER THE PROCEDURE
The catheter and the sheath will be removed when the procedure is done. You will stay connected to the heart monitor for a while. Your pulse and blood pressure will be checked. You will be given fluids through an IV. If your groin (leg) was used as an insertion site, the catheter and sheath may be removed at the same time, or they may be left in place for a while. If the catheter and sheath are removed at the same time, the insertion site may be sealed with stitches or a plug. If the sheath is left in place, you must lie flat (with your leg straight) for a few hours. When the sheath is removed, pressure may be used to seal the area. A bandage may be applied. If your arm or wrist was used as an insertion site, the catheter and sheath may be removed at the same time. A pressure bandage may be placed over the site. Avoid moving your arm or wrist for a short time.
DURING YOUR RECOVERY
You will be told when you can get up and move about. You may be asked to drink extra fluids to flush out the dye that was injected into your artery.
Tell your doctor or nurse if you have: chest pain or discomfort in your neck, jaw, arms, or back
• shortness of breath weakness or dizziness
• discomfort or bleeding at the insertion site
Your doctor will tell you when you can go home. Many people can return to their usual activities in 1 or 2 days. Ask your doctor when you can participate in sports, exercise and other activities. Do not push or pull heavy objects or lift more than 10 pounds for at least 2 weeks (or as long as your doctor tells you to). Avoid strenuous activities for a few days. Your doctor may prescribe medication to help your heart and blood vessels. Tell your doctor about all of the other medication (prescription and nonprescription) you take. Take your medication exactly as prescribed.
Feeling uncertain about your health can be stressful for you and your family. Having cardiac catheterization eases anxiety and takes the burden of guesswork off you and your doctor. Because you have had this test, you know that any advice about treatment is based on facts discovered during your catheterization. You may be advised to make some changes in the way you live to reduce the risk of future heart and blood vessel problems. A non surgical treatment may be recommended, or you may be advised to have surgery. Whatever your doctor’s recommendation, you can rest assured that it is based on the best possible information.
IF YOU HAVE CORONARY ARTERY DISEASE
If your doctor tells you that one or more of your coronary arteries is blocked with fatty deposits (a condition called coronary artery disease), you will need to make some changes to control your risk factors. Risk factors are habits or characteristics that increase your chance of developing coronary artery disease. Some risk factors, such as age, are beyond your control. But if you reduce the risks you can control, you may prevent a heart attack, stroke, or other health problems. Here are some things you can do: give up tobacco control high blood pressure (with a low-