When cardiologists suspect blockages in the heart, they commonly perform a cardiac catheterization to have a closer look at the coronary arteries, which supply the heart with blood.
“We commonly look at the condition of these arteries when someone has chest pain or angina or after they’ve had a heart attack,” said Dr. Asim Zaidi, interventional cardiologist at Centegra Physician Care. “At the same time we look at the conditions of certain valves, which control the direction of blood when it enters the heart and through the heart and when it leaves the heart.”
A coronary angiogram is performed initially by inserting a tube in the artery, either in the groin or in the wrist. “Through this tube we pass a catheter, which is like a straw that travels up toward the heart,” Zaidi said. “We take this tube into the opening of the artery that supplies the heart with blood. We then inject a contrast dye through this straw to highlight the blood vessels. We take pictures of the arteries using an X-ray camera that moves across the patient.”
If the coronary angiography shows blockages, there are three treatment options. If the blockages are mild, treatment typically involves medications alone, such as those that control high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
“If there are significant narrowings in small areas of the arteries, we can consider deploying a stent, which is like a metal scaffold that keeps the blood vessel open,” Zaidi said. “If we see severe disease in many of the arteries, we will then consider the case with our surgical colleagues to discuss open heart surgery.”
February is Heart Health month. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Zaidi at 815-759-8070.
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