Cardiac Catheterization
Cardiac Catheterization

Cardiac Catheterization Preparing for a Cardiac Catheterization

Before cardiac catheterization, you will meet with your cardiologist, a doctor who specializes in the heart. You will be asked about your medical history, including what medicines you are taking and any allergies you may have, and you will have a physical exam. You will also get instructions on how to prepare for the procedure.

Diagnostic tests and procedures

You may need to have some tests before your catheterization procedure.

  • An electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) looks at your heart’s rhythm and other electrical activity. It can show arrhythmias, heart attacks, and other heart problems.
  • A chest X-ray looks at your lungs, your heart, your major blood vessels, and other structures in your chest.
  • An echocardiogram (echo) looks at the structure and function of your heart.
  • A stress test looks at how well your heart works during physical stress. The stress may be physical exercise, such as walking on a treadmill, or it may be caused by a medicine that can be given to get the same effect.
  • A cardiac CT (computed tomography) scan looks for narrowing of your heart’s blood vessels and problems with the heart, larger blood vessels, and heart valves. These pictures may also help your doctor plan for procedures to open the coronary arteries.
  • Cardiac MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) provides information on the structure and function of your heart, as well as the type and severity of heart disease.
  • Blood tests check for certain diseases and conditions. A complete blood count (CBC) checks your hemoglobin and platelet levels. Blood chemistry tests check how well your liver and kidneys are working. Other tests may check your blood’s ability to clot.

Preparing for the procedure

Talk to your healthcare providers about your medical history, including medicines you take, other surgical procedures you’ve had, and any medical conditions you have, such as diabetes or kidney disease.

Your healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare for the procedure, including:

  • When to arrive at the hospital and where to go.
  • When you should stop eating or drinking.
  • If and when you should start or stop taking medicines.
  • How long you should expect to stay.
  • What happens during the procedure.
  • What to expect after the procedure, including potential problems, such as bleeding or soreness.
  • Instructions for recovering after the procedure, including what medicines to take.
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