Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Heart Disease Health Center

Font Size

Heart Disease and Cardiac Catheterization

Cardiac catheterization (also called cardiac cath or coronary angiogram) is an invasive imaging procedure that tests for heart disease by allowing your doctor to "see" the inside of the arteries and how well your heart is functioning. During the test, a long, narrow tube, called a catheter, is inserted into a blood vessel in your arm or leg and guided to your heart with the aid of a special X-ray machine. Contrast dye is injected through the catheter so that X-ray movies of your valves, coronary arteries, and heart chambers can be created.

Why Do I Need a Cardiac Cath?

Your doctor uses cardiac cath to:

At many hospitals, several interventional, or therapeutic, procedures to open blocked arteries are performed after the diagnostic part of the cardiac cath is complete. Interventional procedures include balloon angioplasty and stent placements. Opening an artery that is blocked and preventing blood flow and oxygen delivery to the heart muscle could be a lifesaving procedure.

What Are the Risks of a Cardiac Cath?

Cardiac cath is generally safe. However, as with any invasive procedure, there are risks. Special precautions are taken to decrease these risks. Your doctor will discuss the risks of the procedure with you.

Risks are rare but can include:

Be sure to ask your doctor any questions you may have before undergoing cardiac cath or other tests for heart disease.

How Should I Prepare for a Cardiac Cath?

Before a cardiac cath, most people will need to have a chest X-ray, blood tests, and electrocardiogram performed within two weeks before having the test.

You can wear whatever you like to the hospital. You will wear a hospital gown during the procedure.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Today on WebMD

x-ray of human heart
A visual guide.
atrial fibrillation
Symptoms and causes.
heart rate graph
10 things to never do.
heart rate
Get the facts.
empty football helmet
red wine
eating blueberries
Simple Steps to Lower Cholesterol
Inside A Heart Attack
Omega 3 Sources
Salt Shockers
lowering blood pressure