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Cardiac cath throws light on state of heart

Dr Fekry El Deeb, Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, Zulekha Hospital, Dubai (Staff Reporter) / 11 February 2012

DUBAI - Heart catheterization is used to check blood flow to the heart and to see how well the heart is pumping.

“It can measure blood pressure in the heart and how much oxygen is in the blood. This test will help your doctor to see how well your heart valves work,” explains Dr Fekry El Deeb, Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, Zulekha Hospital, Dubai.

This test can reveal whether you have coronary artery disease, also known as CAD or atherosclerosis. In CAD, the arteries of the heart become blocked by a fatty substance known as plaque. Over time, the plaque builds up and blocks blood flow to the heart muscle. CAD can cause chest pain (angina) and puts you at risk for a heart attack.

The test is done by an interventional cardiologist and trained assistants. A small plastic tube called a catheter is inserted into an artery or vein in your arm or groin. “The catheter is used to inject a dye into your coronary arteries. If a blockage is found in your coronary arteries, then another catheter with a balloon tip may be used to insert a stent in order to widen the artery.”

“You will receive a mild sedative to help you relax before the test. You will be awake and able to follow directions during the test. The test may last 30 to 60 minutes. During this time, the doctor will take several pictures of your heart using special x-rays,” he explains.

You may feel a warm sensation once the doctor injects the dye through the tube. Some people feel nauseated or have chest pain or pressure. You will be asked not to eat or drink 6 to 8 hours before the test. The test will be performed in the hospital, and you will most likely go home 4 to 6 hours after the test is done.

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the world. A heart catheterization will help your doctor predict your risk of a heart attack or other heart problems.

The results will help your doctor to choose the best modality of treatment like proper medicines, balloon dilatation and stenting or open heart surgery. The results will also help your doctor choose the best plan to lower your risk of heart attack. This plan may include eating healthy, exercising, and stopping smoking.


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