Heart Catheterizations and Angioplasty

Cardiac catheterization (cardiac cath or heart cath) is a procedure to examine how well your heart is working. This procedure is done in the hospital and may include an overnight stay. A thin, hollow tube called a catheter is inserted into a large blood vessel that leads to your heart. A heart cath provides information on how well your heart works, identifies problems and allows for procedures to open blocked arteries.

Angioplasty is a procedure in which a catheter is threaded into the heart with a deflated balloon at the tip. The balloon is then inflated to open spots where blood flow has been reduced or blocked. While doing an angioplasty, doctors may also implant a mesh tube called a stent to help prop open the artery, reducing the chance of another blockage. Another type of angioplasty is a laser angioplasty; instead of a balloon, the catheter carries a laser tip that sends pulsating beams of light to clear blockages.

(Discharge instructions on separate sheet of paper)

Placement of coronary stents

This procedure is done in the hospital and may include an overnight stay. Special tubing with an attached deflated balloon is threaded up to the coronary arteries. The balloon is inflated to widen blocked areas where blood flow to the heart muscle has been reduced or cutoff. A stent is then implanted to help prop the artery open and decrease the chance of another blockage. It is considered less invasive because the body is not cut open.

Reason for the Procedure:

  • Greatly increases blood flow through the blocked artery.
  • Decreases chest pain (angina).
  • Increases ability for physical activity that has been limited by angina or ischemia.
  • Can also be used to open neck and brain arteries to help prevent stroke.

(Discharge instructions on separate sheet of paper)

Placement of peripheral stents

Special tubing with an attached deflated balloon is threaded up to the coronary arteries. The balloon is inflated to widen blocked areas where blood flow to the heart muscle has been reduced or cutoff. A stent is then implanted to help prop the artery open and decrease the chance of another blockage. It is considered less invasive because the body is not cut open.

Reason for the Procedure:

  • Greatly increases blood flow through the blocked artery.
  • Decreases chest pain (angina).
  • Increases ability for physical activity that has been limited by angina or ischemia.
  • Can also be used to open neck and brain arteries to help prevent stroke.

This procedure is done in the vascular lab at our Jackson location.

(Discharge instructions on separate sheet of paper)

Placement of Pacemakers

This procedure is done in the hospital and may include an overnight stay. A pacemaker is a small battery-operated device that helps the heart beat in a regular rhythm. There are two parts: a generator and wires (leads).

The generator is a small battery-powered unit, and it produces the electrical impulses that stimulate your heart to beat. The generator may be implanted under your skin through a small incision. It is connected to your heart through tiny wires that are implanted at the same time.

Impulses flow through these leads to your heart and are timed to flow at regular intervals, just as impulses from your heart’s natural pacemaker would.

Some pacemakers are external and temporary, not surgically implanted.

Your doctor may recommend a pacemaker to make your heart beat more regularly if your heartbeat is too slow and often irregular, or if it is sometimes normal and sometimes too fast or too slow.

(Instructions for after pacemaker is implanted is on a separate document)

Defibrillator Implantation

This procedure is done in the hospital and may include an overnight stay. An implanted defibrillator is larger than a pacemaker, and its purpose is to save your life if your heart stops beating.

The device, which has a single lead or double leads, shocks the heart if it detects a life-threatening rhythm disturbance from the lower chambers of the heart. It can correct this rhythm. Because it has a pacemaker built into it, a defibrillator also has the capability of stimulating the heart like a pacemaker, to help stop fast rhythms, at times, and to prevent the heart from getting too slow.

A subcutaneous defibrillator is a less-invasive alternative available to some patients with certain heart conditions. Its advantage is the lack of a transvenous lead inside the heart that a traditional defibrillator requires.

Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy

In heart failure patients, Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy, or biventricular pacing, is used to help improve the heart’s rhythm and the symptoms associated with the arrhythmia. The procedure involves implanting a small pacemaker, usually just below the collarbone.

Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy improves the heart’s efficiency and increases blood flow, which alleviates some heart-failure symptoms, such as shortness of breath.

Laser Lead Extraction

The physician uses a laser to remove a malfunctioning or infected pacemaker or defibrillator leads.