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Our body consists of a number of organ that function together to sustain life. The heart is a most vital organ, which pumps blood throughout the body and ensures that the rest of the organs are functioning properly. It performs its job continuously, without any break or rest in between. However, it may get affected by number of diseases and disorders owing to unhealthy lifestyle. Therefore, it is essential to regularly monitor the heart and the circulatory system to prevent any disease, and also treat the disease in the initial stages to avoid unnecessary complications. Cardiac catheterization is one such procedure, which helps diagnose the presence of any disease in the heart or cardiovascular system.

Procedure

Cardiac catheterization is a minimally invasive surgery, where a tube is inserted into the body through a tiny incision to diagnose the presence of any arterial blockage in the heart. The overall heart health, including the condition of the cardiac muscles, arteries, and valves can also be diagnosed through this procedure. It also helps in the identification of heart diseases.

This procedure is also known as heart cath process, which is carried out in a lab known as the cath laboratory. It is an outpatient procedure since it is quicker than a heart surgery, and takes up to two hours for completion. This process is usually carried out under mild sedation. The temperature in the cath lab is approximately 65 ºF. The lab will have an array of machines, which monitor the activity of the heart and other organs involved. The patient is made to lie on his back and is covered with sterile sheets, barring the site where the catheter needs to be inserted. A blood pressure cuff and an oximeter are fitted to keep the patient in a stable condition. Since this is mainly a diagnostic test which looks into the condition of the heart and helps treat the disorders, heart attacks and other heart-related disorders can be prevented.

Post Operative Care: At the Hospital

After the cardiac catheterization procedure, the patient is shifted to the recovery room, where he is kept under close observation for approximately one day. Immediately after the surgery, the patient is advised strict bed rest for about eight to nine hours without any movement. The main aim behind this is to rest the area where the catheter (or the tube) has been inserted in the body. In case the catheter has been inserted into the body through a vein in the arm, then the arm should be kept in an extended position for about three to four hours. If the catheter is inserted through the thigh or groin vein, then the leg must be kept at an extended and elevated position for about six to eight hours.

During the stay at the hospital, the patient is made to drink lots of water and fluids at regular intervals. This is to induce frequent urination to dispose of the dye from the body. There can be slight bleeding at the site of the incision, where the catheter had been inserted. In order to stem the loss of blood, the incision site must be pressed down with the help of cotton or tissue. The patient is discharged from the hospital after performing a few preliminary tests, and is also advised to consult the doctor if there are any noticeable changes at the site of the surgery or if the patient experiences side effects like pain, tenderness, or fever accompanied by chills.

Post Operative Care: At Home

After a brief stay at the hospital, the patient is discharged and allowed to go home. Recovery from cardiac catheterization at home involves following the surgeon's post operative care instructions. The patient is strictly advised to stay away from strenuous activities as it may prolong the healing of the surgical wound. Proper care must be taken to prevent any infections or the wound becoming septic. The doctor may recommend aerobic exercises for quick recovery, which will increase the efficiency of the heart and lungs. Exercise also reduces the risk of the occurrence of cardiovascular diseases. The recovery time may vary according to the individual and also depends on a number of factors like the age and physical health of the patient, and his response to the post operative care provided. On an average, it can take up to 3 to 4 hours after surgery for the recovery process to begin. However, to speed up recovery after catheterization, it is advisable to avoid doing any heavy work or straining yourself for a couple of weeks before you resume your routine. In some cases, complications may develop as a result of improper care. In such cases, it is necessary to consult your doctor who may prescribe medications to bring down the severity of the symptoms and cure them.

A change in lifestyle, and quitting alcohol and smoking will increase the longevity and keep your body free from diseases.

Disclaimer: This Buzzle article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.