If You Have a Heart Catheterization Take This…It Could Save Your Kidneys

Whenever your cardiologist suspects a blockage in the arteries of the heart it’s common for them to perform a procedure called coronary catheterization.

In this procedure, the doctor sends a small tube into the vessels of the heart through the artery of the leg. A liquid contrast material is then injected into the blood vessel through the catheter so that they can see where blockages have developed.

The contrast material used in this procedure can be quite challenging for the kidneys and is a leading cause of hospital induced kidney failure. This means that you can go into the test with working kidneys and come out of the procedure needing dialysis. For most people, this is a scary thought.

A recent study evaluated the use of a natural compound called N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) before and after the procedure.

Researchers gave 212 people either high dose NAC (1200 mg twice daily before and on the day of the procedure) or high dose vitamin C before and after the procedure. The group who received the NAC did significantly better than the group who received the vitamin C. The researchers concluded “High dose NAC seems more beneficial than ascorbic acid in preventing contrast-induced renal [kidney] function deterioration in patients, especially diabetic patients, with renal insufficiency undergoing coronary angiography.”

What To Do With This Information

This test procedure is commonplace in many hospitals and the population who is most likely to undergo this procedure are diabetics, the group at the highest likelihood of developing kidney failure.

The findings of this study are very important because one simple supplement can significantly decrease your risk of losing kidney function after the test is complete. Now, there is good news and bad news…

The good news is most hospitals already have NAC in their pharmacy because NAC is used in treating Tylenol toxicity. The bad news is most doctors will never hear about this study and so it’s up to you to ask for NAC on the day of the procedure. You will also want to take the NAC, which is available in most health food stores, for a couple days before the procedure to allow it to build up in your body if this is at all possible.

The recommended dose is 1000 mg twice daily for a few days before and a few days after the procedure. I would also recommend taking 100 mg twice daily of ubiquinol, an active form of coenzyme Q10, which can help to energize the cells of the kidney and heart.


American Heart Journal, 2009

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