Cardiac Cath Pre-Procedure

Before scheduling a cardiac catheterization, the physician performs a physical examination, takes a medical history, and describes the procedure and its risks. The physician and patient discuss whether an angioplasty will be performed if a blockage that requires immediate treatment is detected.

Physicians should be notified if the patient has an allergy to shellfish or intravenous dye, or has diabetes or kidney disease. These patients may not tolerate the iodine-based dye used in cardiac catheterization, and an agent that carries less risk for severe allergic reaction or kidney failure may be used.

High-risk patients (e.g., those with unstable angina, diabetes, kidney disease) may be admitted to the hospital the night before the procedure to receive intravenous hydration and a steroid to lower the risk for complications.

Patients are required to fast for 6 to 8 hours before undergoing the procedure. Blood tests (e.g., complete blood count, kidney function test) and an electrocardiogram (EKG) usually are performed the day of the procedure. Some physicians prefer to do these tests several days before.

An intravenous (IV) line is started to administer fluids and medications, if needed, and patients are given a mild sedative, either in pill form or intravenously, to keep them as comfortable as possible during the procedure. If the sedative does not relieve anxiety, the patient should request another dose. The patient is then transported to the catheterization laboratory.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 01 Jul 2000

Last Modified: 03 Jan 2012