Cardiac catheterization helps doctors determine heart health

Cardiac catheterization is a procedure to determine how well the heart is working. (KATV Photo)

February is American Heart Month.

One procedure that can help doctors measure and treat cardiac patients is called a cardiac catheterization. It's a procedure to determine how well the heart is working.

"The doctor either gets access either in the arm, the radial artery, or the leg, which is the femoral artery, and puts in a plastic tube, which is what we use to work through to be able to do the procedure."

Dr. Morris Kelley, an interventional cardiologist with CHI St. Vincent Heart Institute in North Little Rock, explains a catheter is sent up to the heart and dye is used to see any blockages.

Generally, the procedure is done when patients show symptoms of a blockage.

"They may have already had a stress test or another procedure that demonstrates that they are getting decreased blood flow to their heart, or their lab work suggests there's a blockage or something like that."

He says there are three scenarios.

"Either we get in there and we don't find anything, so it sounds like your chest pain that is coming from your heart isn't coming from your heart, you may have some minor blockage we can treat with medicine. The second scenario is you have a blockage we can either fix with angioplasty or stents and generally we can do that while you're in the cardiac catheterization lab at that time. Or you have too much blockage for us to fix with stents and then we're talking bypass surgery."

Dr. Kelley says if you're experiencing heart concerns, make it a priority to speak with your doctor.

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