Procedures in the “cath lab” – named for the catheters threaded into the heart – are done for all forms of cardiac disease, like congenital heart defects, ischemic heart disease or heart arrhythmias, said lead author Maria Grazia Andreassi of the CNR Institute of Clinical Physiology in Pisa, Italy.
“These procedures, highly effective and often life-saving, require substantial radiation exposure to patients,” Andreassi told Reuters Health by email.
But staff members, too, are exposed to radiation. In particular, for the cardiologists and electrophysiologists who work near the patient and the radiation source, “the cumulative dose in a professional lifetime is not negligible,” Andreassi said.
[…]Doctors had higher risks than nurses or technicians, and risk was higher for those who had been working more than 16 years, as reported in Circulation: Cardiovascular Interventions.
Stroke and heart attack risk were similar in the radiation and non-radiation exposure groups.
“Compared to healthcare professionals not exposed to radiation, workers with more than 16 years of occupational work are approximately 10 times more likely to experience cataracts and eight times more likely to have cancer after adjusting for other confounders,” like age and smoking status, Andreassi said.
Everyone wears lead aprons, and increasingly, lead caps,” Klein told Reuters Health by email. “We are careful about unnecessary exposure.”
But wearing lead creates orthopedic problems and doesn’t completely protect against the effects of radiation, he said.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and federal and state agencies probably need to get more involved than they already are, he said.
“Unfortunately, interventional cardiologists are often inadequately trained in radiation safety and radiobiology, and hospitals have few training programs regarding radiation risk and exposure,” Andreassi said.