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Everything You Need to Know About Catheterization

Doctor in blue scrubs holding catheter device.

By Nuno Monteiro for Shutterstock

Catheterization is hardly a topic that’s well-known to the average American, but in the medical field, it’s a common practice. Though it sounds like a scary subject, cardiac catheterization is an important procedure that helps doctors effectively diagnose heart problems.

What Is a Cardiac Catheterization?

 Doctors will often use a long, thin tube (a catheter) to diagnose and treat cardiovascular conditions. The catheter is inserted into an artery or vein, most likely in the leg or arm, then threaded through the patient’s blood vessels to their heart. Doctors will then use the catheter to run diagnostic tests and assess the heart’s health. Typically, the catheterization process is quick and low-risk.

Why Would You Need a Cardiac Catheterization?

 Doctors often call for catheterization and cardiovascular interventions when a person encounters a heart problem. This problem could be anything from a blocked blood vessel that causes chest pain to congenital defects. If your doctor cannot diagnose and treat the problem by evaluating external symptoms and non-invasive tests, they will most likely call for cardiac catheterization.

Is Catheterization Really Risk-Free?

In all honesty, every medical procedure comes with some level of risk. The dangers of catheterization are usually quite low, but there are potential complications, such as:

Bleeding, stroke, heart attack, damaged arteries, blood clots, allergic reactions to the medication that’s used, and, in extremely rare circumstances, death.

How Can I Prepare for My Cardiac Catheterization?

Your doctor will have you take several steps to prepare for the catheterization, including:

  • Avoiding food and drink for six hours before the procedure.
  • Relaxing to avoid complications with anxiety.
  • Stopping medications that thin your blood and pose threats during the procedure.

After the cardiac catheterization, your doctor will explain their diagnosis and help you come up with a treatment plan.

If you’re experiencing chest pain, heart problems, or issues with your pacemaker, don’t hesitate to contact Brookhaven Heart. Our wait times are short and our doctors are highly-trained. We can handle everything from cardiac catheterization to stress tests and preventative counseling.

To learn more about the services at Brookhaven Heart or to schedule an appointment with our medical professionals, give us a call today at 631-654-3278. We have locations in Patchogue, New Hyde Park, and Hicksville, New York.