For patients who have experienced certain symptoms, such as chest pain, dizziness, extreme tiredness, leg pain when walking, and/or shortness of breath, your doctor or cardiologist may recommend testing and possible treatment in a cardiac catheterization (cath) lab.
In a cardiac cath lab, an interventional cardiologist can view the arteries and chambers of the heart to identify any blockages or abnormalities, as well as diagnose and treat a range of heart conditions. For example, if a blockage is identified, the physician can perform an angioplasty and stent placement to open the blocked arteries and restore blood flow to the heart. They can also check for common heart conditions, including atherosclerosis, cardiomyopathy, congenital heart disease, heart failure, and heart valve disease.
“Cath labs are known for offering minimally invasive procedures, which require smaller incisions than those often used in traditional surgery,” said Azamuddin Khaja, MD, an interventional cardiologist at Parkland Health Center. “They also require a shorter recovery, so patients are often able to go home the same day or following a very brief hospital stay.”
Parkland Health Center opened a cardiac cath lab in January 2022, staffed by a specialized heart team, including interventional cardiologists, cardiac nurses, and radiology or cardiovascular technologists. The hospital is proud to be able to provide quality, life-saving heart care for countless patients close to home. One of those patients is Ironton resident Robert Savage, 75.
“I had been dealing with shortness of breath and pain in my legs for several months,” said Savage. “Then, I experienced pain in my arms that lasted for three weeks. That’s what prompted me to see my primary care doctor.”
Savage explained his symptoms to his doctor, who did an assessment and checked the blood flow in his legs. Concerned by those symptoms, he referred Savage to Dr. Khaja, who performs diagnostic and minimally invasive treatment procedures in the hospital’s Cardiac Cath Lab. Savage was already familiar — and comfortable — with Dr. Khaja.
“I met Dr. Khaja about a month prior when my wife, Mary Jane, had a heart attack and was taken to Parkland Health Center’s ER for treatment,” said Savage. “Dr. Khaja treated her and took great care of her, so I knew I was in good hands.”
At Savage’s first appointment with Dr. Khaja in mid-March, they discussed his symptoms before Savage underwent a stress test.
“Robert presented with unstable angina, which is chest discomfort or pain caused by an insufficient flow of blood or oxygen to the heart,” said Dr. Khaja. “Unfortunately, this condition can lead to a heart attack.”
Based on the results of the stress test, Dr. Khaja recommended that Savage undergo a cardiac cath procedure.
“Thanks to medical advances, superior stents, and excellent long-term outcomes, percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) – which is a non-surgical procedure – has become the preferred treatment for heart disease,” said Dr. Khaja. “Robert’s condition made him a great candidate for a PCI.”
Savage was relieved to have an answer and a plan.
“Dr. Khaja did an excellent job of explaining exactly what to expect,” said Savage. “I wasn’t nervous at all. I was ready to put this behind me and start feeling better soon.”
On March 30, 2022, Savage and his wife made the 35-minute drive to Parkland Health Center, where Dr. Khaja performed a left heart catheterization procedure and then placed a stent in Savage’s right coronary artery.
“Robert’s right coronary artery was more than 90 percent blocked,” said Dr. Khaja. “So, I performed a balloon angioplasty and then placed a special stent that slowly releases medication to help keep the artery open.”
Savage was discharged home that same day to recover. He was back up and moving shortly after the surgery. More importantly, his symptoms were gone.
“I noticed my symptoms went away shortly after the procedure,” said Savage. “I no longer have pain in my arms or legs. I still experience some shortness of breath, but it’s much better.”
If you’re interested in learning more about the services offered at Parkland Health Center’s Cardiac Cath Lab or want to make an appointment with a cardiologist, call 573-431-3338.