i'm a night owl, so you can always count on me for late night answers!
some of your questions are hard to answer, and teri has taught me the value of knowing that everyone is different, etc. but i'll say, since i had my first heart cath in february, i've done TONS of research and most unfortunately it is not particularly unusual for women under 50 to have heart problems these days. caused by a variety of things, genetics, poor diet/exercise/smoking, high blood pressure, it can just be so many factors. do you have a history of heart disease in your family? i'm sure after your cath they'll be able to give you much insight into why this happened and help you keep it from happening again.
tightness might mean a number of things, and again, after the procedure they'll be able to tell you. i'm guessing you've already had an echocardiogram or an EKG? they should have been able to tell you from those if you've had a heart attack already. i think teri's a nurse, she can answer that better.
and it seems more common, DEPENDING on the kind of problem you have, that they might put "stents" in rather than bypass. doctors seem to all feel differently about this, and again it depends on what your particular problem is, that is, if you have one. one of my best friends husband went in 2 days ago, similar tightness, etc. they DID find some blockage but decided the pain he felt was esophageal, not heart. so you just don't know, and i understand that a heart cath is the "gold standard" in making the decision about what the matter might be. so at least you can rest assured you'll be very knowledgeable of your situation after you wake up tomorrow.
plan on lying flat for a while! everyone says it's the hardest part, but i just haven't found that to be true. they keep you pretty stoned and the time goes by pretty easily, i think. they'll take good care of you while that's going on and then when they stop the good dope you'll wake up pretty fast and hopefully be ready to go.
again, once you get the IV in and the juice flows, you won't be afraid and you'll blink and you'll be outta there (the cath room). i have found that everyone dealing with that, the team, is always SO nice, they know you're nervous and they always make me feel good, not stupid for being scared. i ask LOTS of questions. be ready with your list! like:
when can i shower. when can i walk. should i join a cardiac health program. how will the drugs help me? do i have options toward my care? i'm just thinking outloud, sorry this is so long...
i'm still up if you want to ask more!
libby (what state are you in, if you don't mind my asking? they say not to divulge personal stuff, like location, and i think that's a smart idea, i'm just curious about state locations!).