Heart cath / cardiac cath / coronary angiogram are terms used inter-changeably. Cardiac catheterization is a diagnostic procedure used to assess the overall function of the heart, great vessels and coronary arteries. During the cardiac catheterization, a cardiologist will guide a very thin, hollow tubing called a catheter through an artery or vein in your arm or leg and into your coronary arteries, which provide the heart's blood supply. Contrast (dye) is then injected into the blood vessels. The movement of the contrast material through the heart and coronary arteries is seen on a monitor. From cardiac catheterization, the cardiologist can:
determine if coronary arteries are blocked or narrowed.
determine if valves are working properly.
assess pumping function.
view and diagnose many other cardiac abnormalities.
Your doctor may want you to undergo cardiac catheterization for many reasons including:
- pain, shortness of breath, palpitations or angina.
- an abnormal stress test, which suggests a potential blockage.
- for evaluation of congestive heart failure or a weakened heart muscle.
- prior to a surgical procedure, if indicated, to assess one's risk of heart problems during surgery.
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