About heart disease and cardiac catheterization

What is 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 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 Catheterization?

Your doctor uses cardiac cath to:

  • Evaluate or confirm the presence of heart disease (such as coronary artery disease, heart valve disease, or disease of the aorta).
  • Evaluate heart muscle function.
  • Determine the need for further treatment (such as an interventional procedure or bypass surgery).
  • At many hospitals, several interventional, or therapeutic, procedures to open blocked arteries are performed after the diagnostic part of the cardiac catheterization is complete. Interventional procedures include balloon angioplasty and stent placements.

What are the symptoms for heart disease and cardiac catheterization?

Heart diseases are caused by various factors and are of multiple types. While some heart diseases are related to the blood vessels and arteries, others might be caused due to irregular heart rhythm. The types of heart diseases with their symptoms can be seen below. •Problems in blood vessels- fatty plaques in the arteries and damaged or blocked blood vessels can cause heart diseases, whose symptoms include Chest pain or pressure, or discomfort in the chest, hortness of breath, pain or numbness in the legs or the arms, pain in the back, throat, neck, or jaw. •Abnormal heartbeats- This condition, also called heart arrhythmias, occur when the heartbeats become slow or irregular. The symptoms of this condition include Racing heartbeat, Slow heartbeat, Shortness of breath, Dizziness, Fainting, Chest pain, fluttering in the chest region, etc. •Heart Defects- If a person has a heart defect since birth, the symptoms of heart defects include pale or blue skin color, Swelling in the leg or the abdomen region or around the eyes, Shortness of breath, or poor Weight gain. •Problems in the heart muscles- This condition, also known as cardiomyopathy, is characterized by symptoms such as breathlessness, Swelling in the legs, Fatigue, Dizziness or Fainting, Irregular heartbeats •Heart infection- Endocarditis or heart infection is the problem when the inner lining of your heart chambers or valves is affected, showing symptoms such as Fever, Swelling in the legs, skin Rashes, Fatigue, dry cough, and Shortness of breath. •Cardiac Catheterization is the process in which the doctors guide a thin and flexible tube to reach the heart through a blood vessel to cure heart problems such as clogged arteries or irregular rhythm of the heartbeats. It cures or gives relief from problems including coronary artery disease, heart failure, heart valve disease, congenital heart disease, etc.

What are the causes for heart disease and cardiac catheterization?

There are multiple causes that lead to heart diseases. Also, there are various parts of the heart or the body that are affected, causing various types of heart diseases. Some of the main causes of heart disease include- •Inactive Lifestyle •Genetics •High Blood Pressure •Smoking Habits •Stress •Obesity •High levels of bad cholesterol •Lower levels of good cholesterol •Diabetes or metabolic syndrome •Age Out of these, age is the biggest factor that often causes a heart attack in most people. Apart from this, the various other heart diseases and their reasons are mentioned below- •Heart Failure- This condition prevails when the heart cannot pump sufficient blood required to meet your body's needs. This can happen if you have high blood pressure, thyroid disease, or heart muscle disease. •Heart Valve Disease- An abnormality in either of the four valves of the heart can affect the blood flow between your heart and other parts of the body, such as the lungs and the blood vessels. This can cause blockage of blood, leading to heart problems. This condition occurs due to coronary artery disease, rheumatic fever or other such infections, high blood pressure, etc. Cardiac catheterization is a test conducted by the doctors to check the health and proper working of your heart’s blood vessels. It helps identify, in time, problems related to the heart, if any, so that a treatment for the same can be conducted. The treatment often includes placing a stent in your heart vessels or arteries as required.

What are the treatments for heart disease and cardiac catheterization?

Heart diseases are of multiple types and can be identified by tests and exams such as ECG, Holter Monitoring, Echocardiogram, Stress Test, CT scan, MRI, etc. Cardiac catheterization is another way in which the health of the heart can be assessed to identify heart diseases. If any. In this test, the doctors insert a short tube called a sheath into one of the veins or arteries present in your leg or your arm. Another hollow and flexible tube which is longer than the previous tube and is called a guide catheter is then inserted further into the sheath. By making use of X-ray images on the monitor, the doctor navigates the catheter through the medium of the respective artery to make it reach your heart. This process is used to measure the pressures in your heart chambers and inject a dye. This dye is also visible to the doctors on the X-ray, and with its help the doctor can see the blood while it is flowing through your heart, valves and blood vessels, to search for any existing problems. The treatments for heart diseases include- Lifestyle changes- Some of the major changes include consuming a low-fat and a low-sodium diet along with exercising regularly. Also, the patient needs to quit smoking completely, and limit the intake of alcohol to the prescribed levels. Medications- Various medicines are prescribed by the doctors for their patients with heart diseases including aspirin, beta-blockers, Ranolazine, etc. Surgeries- If you are unable to receive the required result from medications and lifestyle changes, you will need to undergo surgery depending on the type of heart disease you have.

What are the risk factors for heart disease and cardiac catheterization?

As with most procedures done on the heart and blood vessels, cardiac catheterization has some risks. Major complications are rare, though.

Possible risks of cardiac catheterization are:

  • Bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • Bruising
  • Damage to the artery, heart or the area where the catheter was inserted
  • Heart attack
  • Infection
  • Irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias)
  • Kidney damage
  • Stroke
  • Allergic reactions to the contrast dye or medication

If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, tell your doctor before having a cardiac catheterization.

Is there a cure/medications for heart disease and cardiac catheterization?

Heart diseases can be subdued for some time, and prevented from being deadly for the time being. However, they cannot be cured completely. When a person develops heart disease, he is given three options in terms of a cure for the same. The cure/medication for heart diseases includes the following- Lifestyle changes and home remedies- The health of your heart can be improved with the help of certain changes in your lifestyle. Some of them are mentioned below- Quit smoking- If you are a smoker, you should quit smoking immediately as it poses a high risk for the heart and problems such as atherosclerosis. Control your blood pressure- Measure your blood pressure regularly and try to control it so that it is neither too high, nor too low. It should range between 80-120 diastolic. Control diabetes- Keeping your diabetes and blood sugar level under control can help you reduce the symptoms of heart disease. Exercise- Regular exercise keeps the heart healthy. Maintain your weight- Try not to gain weight and reduce extra weight if you are obese. Manage stress- With the help of practices like yoga and meditation, manage your life stress. Medications- The medications given by the doctors to the patients in cases of heart diseases include ACE inhibitors, Antiarrhythmics, Angiotension or Receptor Blockers, Antiplatelet Drugs and Aspirin Therapy. Apart from this, Nitrates, Clot Buster Drugs and Beta-Blockers are also used for curing the symptoms of heart diseases. Interventions- Various surgeries and methods are used by doctors to help reduce heart problems in people who are unable to get the requisite effect from medications. Some of them include Stents and Angioplasty, Heart Bypass Surgery, Valve Disease Treatment, etc. With the help of cardiac catheterization, the doctors can identify the pre-existing problems in the heart so that the treatment for the same can be initiated. This test identifies heart health and helps the doctors search for any potential risks.

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