Coronary artery disease or arteriosclerotic heart disease, it’s the most common form of heart disease. It occurs when the small blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart narrow, allowing plaque to build up.
Dr. Leslie Webb, an interventional cardiologist with Cardiovascular Specialists at Bon Secours Mary Immaculate Hospital in Newport News treats very specific and complex heart diseases with cardiac catheterization procedures. “When blockages in the arteries become significant enough to cause ischemia,” she says, “we go in with balloons and stents to open up the arteries to relieve those blockages and allow increased blood flow.”
Traditionally, cardiac catheterization is performed in the large femoral artery, but this procedure can be very difficult for some patients. “When we do a cath in the femoral artery, the patient has to lie flat for anywhere between two and eight hours,” she says. “That can be torture for patients with back pain.”
During her fellowship, Dr. Webb learned to do the procedure through the radial artery, located in the patient’s arm. Not only does this procedure result in less bleeding; it’s more comfortable. As soon as they get off the table, patients can sit up in a chair – good news for older men with enlarged prostates, who have difficulty urinating lying down; they can get up and go right to the bathroom. Recovery is also much quicker: radial artery patients return to normal activity after two days while femoral artery cath patients typically can’t work, drive or lift for three or more days.
Indications for cardiac cath usually involve specific symptoms: ongoing heart attack, chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness – or in the absence of an ongoing heart attack, a positive functional study or positive stress test.
Source: “Cardiac Care in Hampton Roads”