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What is being done during a right heart catheterization?

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During a right heart catheterization, the doctor determines how well the heart pumps and measures the pressure in the lungs and heart, explains the University of Rochester Medical Center. The doctor evaluates how the blood circulates in people who have abnormal pressures in the heart arteries, burns, congenital heart disease, heart failure or kidney disease, states MedlinePlus.

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A right heart catheterization may also be done to monitor heart attack complications and determine how well various heart medications perform, explains MedlinePlus. Conditions diagnosed with this type of heart catheterization include cardiac tamponade, pulmonary hypertension and restrictive cardiomyopathy. Normal results are when the cardiac index is 2.8 to 4.2 liters per minute per square meter of the body surface, the pulmonary artery systolic pressure is 17 to 32 millimeters of mercury, the pulmonary artery mean pressure is 9 to 19 millimeters of mercury and the pulmonary diastolic pressure is 4 to 13 millimeters of mercury. Other normal results are when the capillary wedge pressure is 4 to 12 millimeters of mercury and the right arterial pressure is 0 to 7 millimeters of mercury.

During the procedure, the doctor guides a pulmonary artery catheter to the right side of a patient’s heart, passing the tube into the pulmonary artery, explains the University of Rochester Medical Center. In some cases, the doctor may give a patient intravenous heart medication during the procedure to observe how the heart responds.

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