Doctors may recommend cardiac catheterization for various reasons. The most common reason is to evaluate chest pain.
Chest pain might be a symptom of coronary heart disease (CHD). Cardiac catheterization can show whether plaque is narrowing or blocking your coronary arteries.
Doctors also can treat CHD during cardiac catheterization using a procedure called angioplasty (AN-jee-oh-plas-tee).
During angioplasty, a catheter with a balloon at its tip is threaded to the blocked coronary artery. Once in place, the balloon is inflated, pushing the plaque against the artery wall. This creates a wider path for blood to flow to the heart.
Sometimes a stent is placed in the artery during angioplasty. A stent is a small mesh tube that supports the inner artery wall.
Most people who have heart attacks have narrow or blocked coronary arteries. Thus, cardiac catheterization might be used as an emergency procedure to treat a heart attack. When used with angioplasty, the procedure allows your doctor to open up blocked arteries and prevent further heart damage.
Cardiac catheterization also can help your doctor figure out the best treatment plan for you if:
Cardiac catheterization also might be used if your doctor thinks you have a heart defect or if you're about to have heart surgery. The procedure shows the overall shape of your heart and the four large spaces (heart chambers) inside it. This inside view of the heart will show certain heart defects and help your doctor plan your heart surgery.
Sometimes doctors use cardiac catheterization to see how well the heart valves work. Valves control blood flow in your heart. They open and shut to allow blood to flow between your heart chambers and into your arteries.
Your doctor can use cardiac catheterization to measure blood flow and oxygen levels in different parts of your heart. He or she also can check how well a man-made heart valve is working and how well your heart is pumping blood.
If your doctor thinks you have a heart infection or tumor, he or she may take samples of your heart muscle through the catheter. With the help of cardiac catheterization, doctors can even do minor heart surgery, such as repair certain heart defects.
Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. To find clinical trials that are currently underway for Cardiac Catheterization, visit www.clinicaltrials.gov.
April 26, 2013
NIH and Children's National Medical Center open new cardiac intervention suite
A new state-of-the-art facility dedicated to pediatric cardiac imaging and intervention, co-established by the National Institutes of Health and Children’s National Medical Center, was opened with a special dedication ceremony today. The new facility, located at Children’s National in Washington, D.C., is the culmination of a long collaboration combining the cardiac imaging expertise at the NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) with the renowned clinical care at Children’s National.
November 20, 2013
Gary H. Gibbons
New NHLBI Program Trains Scientists to Bring More Science Out of the Lab and into the Patient Care Marketplace
The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.