catheterization is a test
to check your heart. This test can include a coronary angiogram, which checks the coronary arteries .
A cardiac catheterization can check blood flow in
the coronary arteries, check blood flow and blood pressure in
the chambers of the heart , 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 ). 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. The two common types of PCI are:
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 Heart Disease: Should I Have an Angiogram?
Other tests can be done during cardiac catheterization to
find heart problems. An X-ray test called a
ventriculogram measures how well blood flows through
the left side of your heart. The test looks at the movements of the wall of the
left ventricle and the heart valves.
Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.
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 and coronary artery disease
Cardiac catheterization is done to:
- Check blood flow and blood pressure in the
chambers of the heart.
- Check blood flow in the coronary arteries
and, if you have
coronary artery disease (CAD), determine whether
surgery or another type of procedure, such as angioplasty with stenting, is
needed to open the blocked blood vessels.
Other reasons for having a cardiac catheterization
Cardiac catheterization is also done to:
- Check the pumping action of the
- 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
- Find out how well the heart valves work.
How To Prepare
Tell your doctor if you:
- Are allergic to the iodine dye used in the
contrast material or any other substance that contains
- 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, and 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 or might be
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.
kidney disease. The contrast material used during
cardiac catheterization 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.