Health Tip: Understanding Heart Catheterization

Helps doctors diagnose heart problems

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(HealthDay News) -- Heart catheterization is a procedure that helps doctors diagnose -- and sometimes even treat -- certain heart conditions. It can show plaque buildup or blockages that could lead to heart attack.

A long, thin, flexible tube is inserted into a blood vessel in the groin, arm or neck, and is threaded up to the heart, says the U.S. government's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Sometimes, a dye is injected into the tube, which allows blockages and buildup to appear on X-rays.

A heart catheterization is typically done under local anesthesia, so patients are conscious. The procedure is relatively painless, although a person may feel slight soreness in the catheterized blood vessel.

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