More than ten million Americans experience chest pain each year.
Most of those people need invasive tests to see what the problem is.
Cardiac catheterization is the standard of treatment for many people with heart problems.
It's a procedure usually done by threading a wire from the groin to the heart.
Most agree it's very uncomfortable and there's a big risk of complications, especially bleeding.
"Bleeding complications can be very serious," explains Dr. Ramesh Mazhari. "Patients need blood transfusions. Patients can die from bleeding complications."
Now doctors are hoping to cut down the risk of bleeding by entering the body from the radial artery in the wrist.
Dr. Mazhari is an interventional cardiologist at George Washington University Hospital.
She says up to three percent of patients who undergo traditional catheterization through the groin experience bleeding, but going through the wrist cuts the risk by 60 percent.
While the radial procedure is very common in other countries, it's only done in about one percent of U.S. cases.
"A radial procedure can be very challenging," Dr. Mazhari says. "It can take a long time to get comfortable. It requires a new set of skills."
Still, Mazhari believes it's worth it not only because it may be safer, but it's also better for patient comfort.
Usually patients are asked to lie still for four to six hours after a catheterization to lessen the chance of bleeding, but after the radial procedure patients are able to get up and walk around immediately after.
These radial or wrist catheterizations are really good for patients who are obese or who suffer back pain and can't lie down for a long period of time, but the femoral approach is still better for patients who have kidney disease and are on hemodialysis.
That's because they do their dialysis through their wrist already.