With heart disease as the leading cause of death in the U.S., catching any heart issues early is key to preventing a more serious problem.

Cardiac catheterizations are very common at University Hospital.

"In a typical day, we perform about eight or 10 of these. It is the best way to find out if you have a risk for heart attacks, which arises from a blockage in your heart vessels," said University Health System interventional cardiologist Dr. Hinan Ahmed, who's also the director of the Cardiac Cath Lab at University Hospital.

That blockage is typical in men with heart disease.

"We see it very common in patients with diabetes, high blood pressure, patients who smoke or have a strong family history," Dr. Ahmed said.

A small incision will be made in a blood vessel usually in the groin, arm, or neck. Then, the doctor places a tapered tube called a sheath through the hole. A thin, flexible guide wire is run through the sheath and your blood vessels to the coronary artery in the heart.

The tube can also be inserted through an IV in the wrist, and don't worry about pain.

"Minimal pain in the IV area, but once we are in the heart, there is no pain at all," said Dr. Ahmed, who also noted that men need to act at the first sign of any symptom. "Patients start having chest pain difficulty in breathing, they can't do their daily activities, and that's when I should see their doctor first."

In next week's Real Men Wear Gowns on KENS 5 Eyewitness News at 6, we'll talk to Mimi Cruz and her father Antonio Vargas, who came to the hospital with an artery that he had no idea had died.

"They did do a catheterization to see what was going on and of course to take a look at everything and that's when they found it," Cruz said.

For more men's health information call 210-358-3045 or go to WearTheGown.com. You can also find the rest of our Real Men Wear Gowns stories at KENS5.com/RealMenWearGowns.