Having a Cardiac Catheterization? Meet Your Care Team

If you and your primary care provider suspect you are having heart-related issues after less invasive testing, a cardiologist may recommend a cardiac catheterization (heart cath) to determine how well your heart is working and if you have disease of the heart muscle, valves, or coronary arteries. Some conditions may be repairable during the same procedure with angioplasty or stents.

Summit Health’s cardiac cath team members (left to right): Aaron Bouder, RCIS (scrubber); Sarah Burkholder RN, and John Rinehart RN, CCRN (circulator and documenter), and Dr. Safi (interventional cardiologist).

 

For this procedure, you will have a specialized hospital-based care team that works together to conduct the procedure, as well as working with you to make you comfortable and informed. Let’s take a look at a typical cardiac cath team, its members’ roles, and how you can take an active role in your care. 

Registration Staff:

Role: For an outpatient, a member of the registration team will complete the registration and paperwork for your procedure.

Tip: Bring your photo ID and current insurance card to ensure a quick and accurate registration process.

Pre/Post-Recovery Nurse or Aide:

Role: Once registration is complete, a member of the pre/post-recovery nurse or aid team will take you to a room to help you prepare you for your procedure. This includes providing a changing gown, collecting vital signs, inserting an IV, and reviewing your medications. After your procedure, this team member will monitor you through the recovery process and review your results, treatment plan, and post-procedure instructions.

Tip: You probably will be instructed not to eat or drink anything the day of your procedure. Bring an up-to-date list of medicines with you, and ask as many questions as you need before and after your procedure to make sure you understand the procedure, your recovery, and any follow-up care you will need. Consider writing down your questions before you arrive.

Registered Nurse/Cardiovascular Technologist:

These team members have extensive training in cardiovascular anatomy, disease processes, and treatment, as well as scrubbing (directly assists the physician performing the procedure), circulating (assists the physician and scrubber with supplies in the room, administers medications, and responds to your needs), and documenting (writes down the events of the procedure, records collected data, and assists with your monitoring).

Tip: You typically will remain awake for this procedure. These team members can answer your procedure-related questions and will work with you to make you comfortable and informed during your procedure.

Interventional Cardiologist:

Role: The interventional cardiologist is a specially trained cardiologist who performs minimally invasive procedures to diagnose and treat heart disease. This physician often performs procedures at the request of your primary cardiologist or physician. The interventional cardiologist works closely and directs the team members during the procedure.

Tip: Discussing treatment options, care requests, and questions with the interventional cardiologist allows you to be an active member of your care team.