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Cardiac Catheterization is there such a thing as to many?
JShelmet posted:
Hi Everyone
I'm new to this site and have a question, but first a very quick overview of my heart related issues and procedures so that everyone knows why I'm posting the question.
I'm 49 years old and since the age of 32 (1996) I have been dealing with heart issues on a constant basis. I have had 2 confirmed attacks, one so-called un-confirmed heart attack (because how mild it was), 7 angioplasties resulting in 9 stents (they used a gallbladder stent in one of the larger arteries), 17 Cardiac Catheterization (#15 I had an allergic reaction to a new die and was on the table for 6 hours) and open heart surgery triple bypass. My doctor states that because of my strong heart and will I have been able to endure so many procedures. They were going to fully disable me from my career as Lic NJ Master Plumber back in 1998, but I refused and retrained and went into the Information Technology field. But over the past 9 months I have been starting to notice a big increase in what I suspect to be angina attacks, I have had these in the past, but now they are happening almost weekly. Back in late July this year I underwent my 17 cardio cath. The results were good no major blockages. I'm scheduled for Nuclear Stress test this Friday, My questions: Is it possible considering the high number of procedures 25+ that my body is starting to react to possible internal damage that is a result of all these procedures? Is 25 procedures considered to be a high number for one person? Are there long term side effects from having so many procedures?
I hope this was not long winded,
Thank you, Joe
James Beckerman, MD, FACC responded:
Cardiac catheterizations and nuclear stress tests expose patients to radiation. It is believed that too much exposure to radiation could be related to both short term and longer term health risks - the most concerning to many people is cancer. It is difficult to say for any individual person how one or more procedures or tests will impact cancer risk, but I believe that doctors should try to minimize that risk by only recommending these types of procedures when they are necessary, and avoiding doing routine surveillance procedures or tests just to "keep an eye on things."
cardiostarusa1 responded:

"Is it possible considering the high number of procedures 25 that my body is starting to react to possible internal damage that is a result of all these procedures?"

Anything medical is seemingly possible (though sometimes improbable) today.

"Is 25 procedures considered to be a high number for one person?"

At first one would think yes, unless, each and every time, a specific diagnostic-only procedure (non-fixative) or a fixative procedure (such as angioplasty with or without stents bypass surgery) was deemed absolutely necessary.

One example, is that the patient really wants to avoid a "full metal jacket", that is, in which the entire length of a native coronary artery (or bypass graft) is stented.

"Are there long term side effects from having so many procedures?"

Radition exposure was already mentioned. It is known that excessive exposure may/can damage coronary arteries and even heart valves, and in isolated cases, a procedure itself may inadvertantly cause/trigger off problems.

The bottom line

Coronary stents (bare-metal or drug-eluting) are only a Band-aid or spot-treatment, and bypass surgery is only a clever way of temporarily circumventing the problem (atherosclerosis), as these procedures do not address the disease process and what drives the progression.

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a lifelong unpredictable (may/can exhibit periods of stabilization, acceleration and even some regression) condition requiring a continuum of care.

Best of luck down the road of life.

Take care,


WebMD member (since 8/99)




Living with Heart Disease

Coronary artery disease (CAD)

CAD is chronic disease with no cure. When you have CAD, it is important to take care of your......

This is especially true if you have had an interventional procedure or...

Recognize the symptoms......

Reduce your risk factors......

Take your medications......

See your doctor for regular check-ups......

- -

The coronary arteries are classified as so-called 'end circulation' since they represent the only source of blood supply to the heart muscle.

Coronary artery anatomy

Starting with the left anterior descending (LAD), the most critical, next to the ultra-critical left main (LM).

_ . _

Heart-Healthy Foods

Nothing complicated, just plain and simple

foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol. CHOOSE skim or low-fat milk, low-fat yogurt and reduced-fat cheeses. Eat more fish and poultry. LIMIT servings to five to seven ounces a day. TRIM visible fat. Limit egg yolks. SUBSTITUTE two egg whites for one whole egg or use an egg-substitute. Eat more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, breads and cereals. USE LESS salt and fat. SEASON WITH herbs and spices rather than with sauces, gravies and butter


Good to know, for the primary and secondary prevention of heart attack and brain attack/stroke

Epidemiologic studies (EDS) have revealed risk factors (encompasses some new, novel or emerging) for atherosclerosis, typically affecting the carotid, coronary and peripheral arteries, which includes age, gender, genetics (gene deletion, malfunction or mutation) , diabetes (considered as being the highest risk factor), smoking (includes second and thirdhand), inactivity, obesity (a global epidemic, "globesity"), high blood pressure (hypertension), Low HDL (now questionable, according to recent studies) high LDL, small, dense LDL, RLP (remnant lipoprotein), high Lp(a), high ApoB, high Lp-PLA2, high triglycerides, HDL2b, high homocysteine (now questionable), and high C-reactive protein (CRP/hs-CRP).



"Be a questioning patient. TALK to your DOCTOR and ASK QUESTIONS. Studies show that patients who ask the most questions, and are most assertive, get the best results. Be vigilant and speak up!"

- Charles Inlander, People's Medical Society


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For more information, visit the Duke Health General and Consultative Heart Care Center