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Why do you need a heart catheterization?

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Quick Answer

A heart catheterization is an invasive procedure that is ordered by cardiologists in order to visualize the heart, states WebMD. Also known as a cardiac catheterization, this procedure is an imaging test that allows doctors to visualize the vessels and arteries that supply the heart with blood.

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Cardiac catheterizations are performed to determine if a patient has heart disease, to evaluate a patient's heart muscle function or to determine if a patient needs intervention treatment, states WebMD. During a cardiac catheterization, patients lie underneath an X-ray machine. After being given a mild sedative, a doctor threads a small catheter through the patient's artery in their groin or in their arm. The catheter injects dye into the patient's artery in order to allow the doctor to visualize the patient's heart and vessels on X-ray film.

A cardiac catheterization procedure allows a doctor to visualize the coronary arteries, the heart chambers and the heart valves, states WebMD. Videos of the heart are taken throughout the procedure with an X-ray machine. The procedure is an outpatient procedure that is most commonly performed in patients who experience chest pain or heart attacks. If an interventional cardiologist performs the procedure, then he or she can complete interventional procedures during the cardiac catheterization such as opening blocked arteries.

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