Blog Post

How to Prepare for Cardiac Catheterization

Your heart is as powerful as it is complex, and unfortunately, lots can go wrong. Long ago, we developed technology that lets us see what's going on inside. One of the best examples of innovation in cardiology is cardiac catheterization. 

André Cournand and Dickinson Richards first introduced cardiac catheterization in the 1940s. Their revolutionary discovery allowed doctors to access the upper chambers of the heart, which made it possible to measure blood pressure and blood oxygen content easier and more accurately than ever before. 

Now, it’s one of the best ways to evaluate the structure and function of your heart. 

If you’ve never had one before, the process can sound overwhelming. Our team at Bentley Heart, led by board-certified invasive and nuclear cardiologist Dr. Fahmi Farah, wants you to be fully informed about and feel as comfortable as possible with the procedures we recommend. 

Here, we give you a step-by-step guide so you know what to expect when you need cardiac catheterization

Why do I need cardiac catheterization?

There are a few reasons we’d recommend cardiac catheterization. It’s a versatile procedure that plays a role in diagnosing and treating a wide range of heart issues. We may perform cardiac catheterization to:

  • Find out why you’re having chest pain
  • Evaluate abnormal heart rhyme
  • Biopsy heart muscle
  • Evaluate or confirm heart disease
  • Monitor progress following a stroke
  • Check pulmonary arteries
  • Assess blood flow, oxygen levels, and blood pressure
  • Acquire more information other tests can’t provide
  • Determine the need for further treatment, such as surgery
  • Place a stent to open a blockage

We can also use it to diagnose cardiomyopathy, aortic stenosis, mitral valve regurgitation, or pulmonary hypertension. 

The days before

We call you a day or so before your scheduled procedure to walk you through what to expect when you get to the office and discuss things like arrival time and transportation arrangements following your procedure. Make sure you have a trusted friend or family member to drive you home afterward.

You can also ask us questions at this time, like whether you should take your medications the morning of, especially if you’re on a blood thinner or anti-clotting medication or if you have diabetes. Let us know if you have kidney disease, medication allergies, or a history of allergic reactions to intravenous (IV) dye. 

Typically, we require that you fast the morning of your appointment but check in with us to ensure that’s necessary. 

The day of

Cardiac catheterization is an outpatient procedure, which means you get to go home the same day. Expect the catheterization to take around an hour. 

When you arrive, one of our nurses places an IV line in your arm to administer medication that helps you stay calm and relaxed. Then, Dr. Farah injects a local anesthetic into the site where the catheter will go. She creates a small incision, carefully places the catheter into your blood vessel, and threads it slowly toward your heart with the help of an X-ray. 

Depending on why we’re performing it, we can fit the catheter with various instruments at the tip that allows us to perform tests or take tissue samples. 

Once the procedure is over, we take you to a recovery area to monitor you before sending you home. Dr. Farah walks you through some care instructions. Typically, we recommend that you modify your activity and prescriptions. 

If you have more questions about your upcoming procedure, don’t hesitate to call our friendly staff or schedule an appointment at our Fort Worth, Texas, office today.