Patients suffering from coronary artery disease or other cardiovascular problems can suffer from chest tightness (angina), shortness of breath, and other symptoms. To determine the underlying cause of these symptoms and the severity of cardiovascular disease, cardiac catheterization can be used to visualize the structure of the heart. Also called coronary angiogram, this test is most commonly used to evaluate heart muscle function and blood flow through the coronary arteries. When performed at a heart hospital , this cardiac catheterization is often performed prior to an interventional procedure such as angioplasty.
To perform cardiac catheterization , the cardiologist passes a long, thin, flexible tube (catheter) through a blood vessel located on the arm, neck, or groin. With the help of advanced x-ray equipment, the tube is safely guided through the blood vessels and into the heart. Once located in the heart, the tube can help the cardiologist accomplish many diagnostic tests, such as:
- Measuring blood pressure and blood flow in the coronary arteries and heart chambers
- Collecting samples of blood from the heart
- Measuring the oxygen saturation in the different areas of the heart
- Examining the coronary arteries for any blockages or abnormalities
- Performing a biopsy on heart muscle
During the cardiac catheterization procedure, a cardiologist can also perform many procedures to improve cardiovascular function. Stenotic heart valves, blocked arteries or grafts, and certain types of congenital (inherited) heart defects can all be repaired using this procedure. A physician can also use cardiac catheterization to evaluate and diagnose primary pulmonary hypertension, pulmonary embolism, cardiomyopathy, and a variety of other conditions.
When performed by an experienced team of cardiovascular specialists, this procedure is very safe and can be extremely helpful in the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease. The Cardiovascular Services team at Regional Medical Center of San Jose is a talented group of highly skilled cardiologists, nurses, and other medical professionals available 24 hours a day to provide our community with the highest possible standard of cardiac care. You can learn more about our heart health program by calling our Consult-A-Nurse service today at (408) 259-4000.