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Cardiac cath lab nurses

Help diagnose and treat the leading cause of death worldwide

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of death worldwide. That is to say, they claim around 17.9 million lives each year, which works out at an estimated 32% of all deaths. Heart attacks and strokes cause more than 75% of these deaths, with 1 in 3 of these affecting people under the age of 70. In February 2021, the Alliance for Heart Failure (a coalition of heart failure organisations) argued that the number of heart failure specialist nurses needs to be doubled, or even quadrupled, to meet rising demand.

What is a cardiac cath lab nurse?

Cath lab nurses care for patients having procedures affecting the heart that require a catheter to be inserted. This might be for diagnostic reasons – for example, checking an artery for a blockage, or for an invasive procedure such as inserting a stent.

Patients can have treatment in a cath lab for several reasons, including:

  • Biopsies of the heart muscle
  • Checking for heart disease
  • Coronary angiography
  • Defects in heart valves or chambers
  • Measuring oxygen levels
  • Monitoring blood flow in the heart
  • Procedures such as heart ablation, valve replacement, balloon angioplasty, stent placement and balloon valvuloplasty

Where does a cath lab nurse work?

Cath lab nurses work as part of the team in cardiac catheterisation labs. To clarify. that’s an area of the hospital specialising in procedures that involve examining and treating the heart without needing to use an operating theatre.

You might be working in an emergency situation, for example where someone has a heart attack, or on a planned procedure such as heart catheterisation or trans-aortic valve replacement.

What does a cath lab nurse do?

You’ll be responsible for helping the team with both interventional and diagnostic procedures such as fitting pacemakers and with angiograms or angioplasty procedures.

Your role can include pre-assessment of patients and checking their health across a complex and changing caseload. You’ll be involved in developing care plans, taking account of a patient’s perioperative risks and wellbeing. You’ll also be admitting patients, monitoring them while the procedure takes place, and looking after them afterwards, including their discharge. You can expect to:

  • Examine patients
  • Administer medication
  • Prepare equipment before the procedure
  • Assist in minimally invasive procedures such as continuous cardiac monitoring, venepuncture, and venous cannulation

What are the entry requirements, and what training do I need?

You’ll need to be a qualified nurse registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). To work with the Scottish Nursing Guild, you’ll also need at least two years of experience working in a cath lab, with interventional cardiology experience, and be able to work calmly under pressure. Along with this, you’ll need to be a good team player and communicator and to have excellent attention to detail.

What makes an excellent cath lab nurse?

As well as having the relevant qualifications and experience, you’ll need:

  • Excellent communication and teamwork abilities
  • To be highly motivated, proactive, and able to deal sensitively with critically ill patients and their relatives
  • Good IT skills
  • To stay calm under pressure
  • Flexibility and enthusiasm – including for new technology and ideas
  • Great leadership skills

Roles with the Scottish Nursing Guild

We’re always looking for qualified cath lab nurses to join our team to work in temporary, last-minute placements in the NHS and private hospitals. You’ll need to work to our high standards and, in return, you’ll receive great rewards as well as professional support from us.

Check out the requirements to work with us.

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