Frequently Asked Questions About Cardiovascular Procedures

Important Information About Cardiac Catheterization  

How long does the procedure take?

Once the doctor arrives, the cardiac catheterization procedure takes 20-30 minutes. You will be prepped about 15 minutes prior to the scheduled start time. An hour may lapse before the doctor speaks to your family.

How long will I be on "bed rest?"

Your doctor will prescribe bed rest for you, generally about 4-6 hours.

When will I be able to go back to work?

Your doctor will usually prescribe one day of minimal activity and rest at home post-procedure.

Is it going to hurt?

You will feel a sting when the doctor numbs your groin. You will not feel the catheters, as there are no nerve endings in arteries. You may feel a brief hot flash when the dye is injected.

Will I be awake during the procedure?

You will be given medicine to help you relax. The doctor needs you to be awake to follow instructions during the procedure. However, you will be given medicine to help you relax and make you as comfortable as possible throughout the procedure. 

When may I return to normal activities?

You will receive instructions not to push, pull, tug or lift anything greater than 10 pounds for the next 48 hours. You should not do any strenuous activity during that time. You should not remain in a dependent sitting position for long periods of time.

Will I need to stay overnight?

Come to the hospital prepared to stay overnight, but there is a chance you will go home the same day.

When may I eat?

You may eat about an hour after the catheter or sheath is removed from your groin.

May I drive myself home?

You will not be able to drive for 24 hours post-procedure.

When will I know the results of my procedure?

The doctor communicates with you throughout the procedure and shows findings on the monitor. The doctor will speak to your family immediately following the procedure.


Answers to Your Questions About an Echocardiogram

What is an echocardiogram?

An echocardiogram is an ultrasound picture of the heart. A standard echocardiogram is also known as a transthoracic echogardiogram (TTE). Another method available is a transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) which allows a specialized probe to pass into the esophagus and capture images directly behind the heart.

What medical information does an echocardiogram provide?

An echocardiogram measures the size of heart chambers and thickness of chamber walls, as well as the heart's pumping strength. Echocardiography can detect valvular problems, fluid around the heart, blood clots or masses inside the heart or abnormal holes between heart chambers, among other things.

How is an echocardiography test done?

This test relies on ultrasound waves (high-frequency sound waves), which bounce off heart tissue and reflect back through a transducer (a small microphone-like device) held on the patient's chest. A computer constructs an image of the heart. This image is displayed on a screen and can be recorded or printed.

Are there any risks or discomforts with an echocardiogram?

There are absolutely no risks; however, there may be slight discomfort to the chest wall while having an echocardiogram.


Electrocardiogram (EKG) Information

What is an EKG?

An EKG is a graphic display of the heart's electrical activity.

What medical information does an EKG provide?

An EKG shows information regarding heart attack, heart rate and heart rhythm, among other things.

How is an EKG performed?

The patient lies down and is connected to the EKG equipment by electrodes placed on the chest, arms and legs. The electrical activity of the heart is printed out and sent to the physician for interpretation.


Information About Cardiac Holter Monitors

What is a Holter monitor?

A Holter monitor is a portable, ambulatory EKG which is usually worn for 24 hours.

What medical information does a Holter monitor provide and how is it done?

It records the heart rate and rhythm for 24 hours, during which time the patient keeps a diary and records any symptoms of chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations, etc. At the end of the recording period, the information is analyzed and a report is created for the physician to interpret.  If a physician requests monitoring over a longer period of time (15-30 days), a similar device known as an event monitor may be provided.

How is a Holter monitor worn?

Several electrodes are placed on the chest; they connect to the small monitor. It may be worn around the waist or the neck. Patients may perform normal daily activities. To avoid getting the monitor wet, showering and/or tub bathing are not advised.


Stress Test Information

What is a stress test?

A stress test is an EKG that is done while the heart is working harder, usually with the patient walking on a treadmill.

What medical information does a stress test provide?

The physician looks for changes on the EKG that would indicate a decrease of blood flow to the heart, possibly by a blockage in one or more of the coronary arteries.

How is a stress test performed?

Like all EKG monitoring, electrodes and lead wires connect the patient to the monitoring equipment. A baseline EKG is taken, and then the patient is asked to walk on the treadmill until maximal exercise is attained or until the physician has enough information to end the test. The EKG is monitored throughout the stress test and compared to the resting or baseline EKG.

Are there any risks or discomfort with a stress test?

There is some risk of provoking abnormal rhythms, ischemia (restriction in blood supply) or other symptoms, but this is evaluated and closely monitored by the physician.

Please see diagnostic studies for more information about these procedures.


Contact Us

For more information, please call 912-819-4100 and ask to speak to someone in The Heart Hospital. 

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