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What is Cardiac Catheterization?

February 24, 2020 | Juan Weksler, M.D.

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A diagnostic cardiac catheterization is a procedure where a catheter is inserted into the heart to see how the heart is working and determine if there is a blockage. An interventional catheterization is done to treat or repair a heart condition. Both procedures are minimally invasive.

During a catheterization, the catheter is inserted in a blood vessel in either the arm or leg and is then guided through the vessel to the arteries near the heart. Contrast material and x-rays are used to look for blockages in the vessels.

Level II Adult Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory by the Ohio Department of Health

Since February 14, 2019 Fisher-Titus has been designated as a Level II Adult Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory by the Ohio Department of Health. This designation means that we are able to do interventional catheterization procedures in addition to the diagnostic ones we’ve been doing since the Snyder/White Heart & Vascular Center opened in 2009.

Since the implementation of the Level II status, 315 heart catheterizations have been done with 107 of those being interventional. Those 107 were able to receive care close to home rather than being transferred to another facility. Not only is this more convenient for the patient and their family but it often means they are able to be treated quicker in cases where “time is muscle.”

So what are heart catheterizations (caths) and what is the difference between a diagnostic and interventional cath? Keep reading to learn more about these procedures and how they are used to diagnose and treat heart disease.

Interventional Caths

If a blockage is found, it may require an interventional cath to open the narrowed artery or arteries and improve blood flow to the heart. This may happen at the same time as the diagnostic procedure or scheduled later. In an interventional cath, once the catheter is in place, they will use one of a few techniques such as a balloon angioplasty to open the artery.

In a balloon angioplasty, a small balloon at the end of the catheter is inserted near the blocked or narrowed area of the coronary artery. When the balloon is inflated, the blockage is compressed against the artery wall and the vessel is widened increasing blood flow. In many cases, balloon angioplasty is performed in conjunction with a stenting procedure.

What is a stent?

A stent is a tiny wire mesh tube used to prop an artery open permanently to prevent the artery from becoming narrow again after a balloon angioplasty. A stent is inserted by placing it over a balloon catheter. When the balloon is inflated, the stent expands, locking it into place in the artery and holds it open. After it is in place, the balloon is deflated and the catheter is removed.

Cardiac Rehabilitation

After a stent procedure you may be prescribed new medications and your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes to prevent further blockages such as exercise, weight loss, quitting smoking, and reducing stress.

Your doctor may recommend Cardiac Rehabilitation to help your kick start these lifestyle changes. The Cardiac Rehabilitation Program at Fisher-Titus focuses on education, physical reconditioning, group support, and physician involvement to help patients get back to a healthy lifestyle. Led by Registered Nurses who specialize in cardiac rehabilitation, the team includes dietitians, occupational, physical, and respiratory therapists, pharmacists, and of course, physicians.

About Dr. Weksler

Juan Weklser, MD, FACC, FSCAI is a Cardiologist with Fisher-Titus Heart & Vascular. He is board certified in Cardiovascular Disease and Interventional Cardiology. For more information about Fisher-Titus Heart & Vascular, visit fishertitus.org/heart