Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Heart Disease Health Center

Font Size

Cardiac Catheterization

Cardiac catheterization is a test to check your heart. This test uses a thin flexible tube called a catheter that is inserted into the heart through blood vessels. This test can include a coronary angiogram, which checks the coronary arteries camera.gif.

A cardiac catheterization can check blood flow in the coronary arteries, check blood flow and blood pressure in the chambers of the heart camera.gif, find out how well the heart valves work, and check for defects in the way the wall of the heart moves. In children, this test is used to check for heart problems that have been present since birth (congenital heart defect).

A coronary angiogram is used to find out if you have disease in your coronary arteries (atherosclerosis camera.gif). If you have atherosclerosis, this test can pinpoint the size and location of fat and calcium deposits (plaque) that are narrowing your coronary arteries.

Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) is similar to coronary angiogram, but it is used to open up a narrowed coronary artery with special tools. PCI includes:

Results from a coronary angiogram help determine whether treatment with medicines, bypass surgery, or percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), such as angioplasty, may be effective.

For help deciding about having this test for coronary artery disease, see dplink.gif Heart Disease: Should I Have an Angiogram?

Health Tools

Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.

dplink.gif

Decision Points focus on key medical care decisions that are important to many health problems.

Heart Disease: Should I Have an Angiogram?

Why It Is Done

Cardiac catheterization

Cardiac catheterization is done to:

  • Check blood flow and blood pressure in the chambers of the heart.
  • Check the pumping action of the heart.
  • Find out if a congenital heart defect is present and how severe it is. Cardiac catheterization sometimes can also be used to help correct the defect.
  • Check blood flow through the heart after surgery.
  • Find out how well the heart valves work.

Coronary angiogram

A coronary angiogram is done to:

  • Check blood flow in the coronary arteries and, if you have coronary artery disease, determine whether surgery or another type of procedure, such as angioplasty with stenting, is needed.

How To Prepare

Tell your doctor if you:

  • Are having an angiogram and are allergic to the iodine dye used in the contrast material or any other substance that contains iodine.
  • Are allergic to any substances that might be used during the procedure, such as latex or talc.
  • Are allergic to any medicines.
  • Take any medicines, vitamins, supplements, or herbal remedies. Some of these can increase your risk of bleeding. Some medicines can cause other problems during the test. Your doctor will tell you which medicines to stop before your test and which medicines you can take safely. Medicines to mention include:
    • Blood-thinning medicine, such as warfarin, clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin.
    • Erection-enhancing medicines, such as sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), or vardenafil (Levitra).
  • Are pregnant, might be pregnant, or are breast-feeding.
  • Have asthma or have ever had a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) from any substance, such as the venom from a bee sting.
  • Have any bleeding problems.
  • Have kidney disease. The contrast material used during an angiogram can cause kidney damage in people who have poor kidney function. If you have a history of kidney problems, blood tests (creatinine, blood urea nitrogen) may be done before and after the test to confirm that your kidneys are functioning properly.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

Today on WebMD

cholesterol lab test report
Article
Compressed heart
Article
 
heart rate graph
Article
Compressed heart
Article
 
empty football helmet
Article
red wine
Video
 
eating blueberries
Article
Simple Steps to Lower Cholesterol
Slideshow
 
Inside A Heart Attack
SLIDESHOW
Omega 3 Sources
SLIDESHOW
 
Salt Shockers
SLIDESHOW
lowering blood pressure
SLIDESHOW