Cardiac (Heart) Catheterization Program at UPMC Presbyterian

Heart catheterization procedures allow doctors to diagnose and treat blockages in the arteries that supply blood to the heart. This is sometimes referred to as percutaneous coroonary intervention or "PCI." This simply means treating the heart by way of a catheter

UPMC Presbyterian's cardiac catheterization laboratories are staffed around the clock with specialists in emergency catheterization.

These physicians have particular expertise in caring for acutely ill patients — many of whom arrive by helicopter — and for treating life-threatening conditions such as:

  • Unstable angina pectoris
  • Acute myocardial infarction (heart attack)
  • Cardiogenic shock

The Cardiac Catheterization Program at UPMC Presbyterian also offers elective and diagnostic heart catheterization procedures.

Our cardiologists are well equipped to treat the sickest cardiac patients with the latest techniques, including external counterpulsation therapy (EECP) and placement of cardiac support devices such as intra-aortic balloon pumps.

Emergency Care for Chest Pain and Heart Attack

The Chest Pain Center at UPMC Presbyterian's Emergency Department (ED) is designed for the rapid evaluation of patients with suspected heart attack.

A person who is diagnosed with a heart attack may be admitted immediately to a cardiac intensive care unit or intermediate care unit, or transported directly to the cardiac catheterization laboratories.

Speeding heart attack treatment

To help speed the delivery of lifesaving angioplasty, UPMC Presbyterian has instituted a door-to-balloon-time protocol to assess heart attack patients before they arrive at the ED. It also helps streamline the triage process so that, if needed, they are more quickly routed to the cardiac catheterization lab.

UPMC Presbyterian's door-to-balloon time — the time from when heart attack patients enter the door to when they have angioplasty — is typically less than 90 minutes.

How the protocol works

  • UPMC Presbyterian's physicians work with local EMS providers to help train them on delivery of electrocardiogram (EKG) testing on the heart attack patient while en route to the hospital.
  • EMS providers send the EKG results via wireless technology to UPMC Presbyterian's Command Center, which notifies the ED.
  • ED physicians and staff assess the patient's condition and prepare treatment before he or she arrives.

Learn more about UPMC Presbyterian hospital and its services.


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