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Cardiac catheterization, sometimes called cardiac cath, often is used to determine the severity and extent of cardiovascular problems. In this procedure, the cardiologist makes a small incision in the arm or groin and threads a catheter into a blood vessel. The catheter is then guided through the blood vessel to the heart. 

Using cardiac catheterization, physicians can: 

  • analyze the location and size of plaque deposits,
  • assess the strength of the heart muscle and valves,
  • collect blood samples,
  • take blood pressure readings, and
  • inject dyes that are visible on x-rays into arteries to see how well blood is flowing. 

Information from the cardiac cath can help determine if cardiac surgery or another interventional cardiology procedure, such as angioplasty, is necessary.

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