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Maine Heart Center - Cardiac Catheterization
Cardiac Catheterization

What is cardiac catheterization?

Cardiac catheterization (kath-uh-ter-I-za-shun) is one of the common tests used to diagnose a heart problem. During the procedure, a long, bendable tube is inserted into a blood vessel in the groin. It is then gently guided to your heart under X-rays.

Click here to see before and after videos of a heart.

Why should I have this test?

Your doctor has told you that you may have coronary artery disease. This means that the blood vessels within your heart may be narrowed or blocked. Angina (an-gin-uh) is the term doctors and nurses use to describe the symptoms when your heart is not receiving enough oxygen. Your doctor may also check on how well the valves are opening and closing. If the valves do not work properly, blood can back up into the chambers and makes the heart work harder. Because the heart is working harder it becomes larger. As it becomes larger over time, the heart does not pump blood well to the entire body. Some patients experience chest discomfort and/or trouble breathing. You may have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Chest tightness, fullness, heaviness, numbness, squeezing, aches and pain
  • Ache in the jaw, neck, and arm, in the back or between the shoulder blades
  • Shortness of breath
  • Indigestion, heartburn or feeling sick to your stomach
  • Sweating
  • Weakness or generalized fatigue

Your doctor is suggesting a procedure to assess the pumping function of the heart and to examine the coronary arteries. Your doctor may also examine the heart's valves.

Cardiac catheterizations are available at:

All Maine Heart Center locations

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