Patients who need diagnostic cardiac catheterization can now undergo the procedure at Mercy Health – St. Joseph Warren Hospital, in a newly opened, state-of-the-art catheterization lab.

A cardiac catheterization lab, also known as a cath lab, is a specialized area used for minimally invasive tests and advanced cardiac procedures. During a cardiac catheterization, a catheter, or a long, thin, flexible tube, is inserted in a blood vessel and threaded to the heart, allowing specialists to perform various tests and treatments.

Cardiac catheterization is ordered for patients exhibiting signs of heart disease including chest pain, shortness of breath, and/or pressure or pain in the shoulders, arms, jaw, neck, or back.

“Coronary artery disease is the leading cause of death in Americans,” said Dr. Jill Uberti, emergency medicine physician. “Cardiac catheterization is a minimally invasive study used to best identify blockage.”

Other reasons for cardiac catheterization include evaluation of chest pain in a patient recovering from a recent heart attack. To evaluate heart attacks that caused major tissue damage and to evaluate abnormal electrocardiogram results that indicate heart disease.

Doctors also use catheterization to look for problems with heart valves and view the shape of the heart and heart chambers to identify heart defects before heart surgery.

The procedure is also used to measure oxygen and blood flow in the heart as well as evaluate how artificial heart valves are functioning.