Discharge Instructions for Cardiac Catheterization

Cardiac catheterization is a procedure to look for blocked areas in the blood vessels that send blood to the heart. A thin, flexible tube (catheter) is put in a blood vessel in your groin or arm. The healthcare provider injects contrast fluid into your blood, which then flows to your heart. X-rays pictures are taken of your heart. Your provider will review the results with you. Be sure to ask any questions you have before you leave. This sheet will help you take care of yourself at home.

Home care

  • Don't drive or make any important decisions for at least 24 hours after receiving any type of sedation or anesthesia. 

  • Arrange to have a responsible adult drive you home after your procedure.

  • Only do light and easy activities for the next 2 to 3 days. Ask for help with chores and errands while you recover. Have someone drive you to your appointments.

  • Don't lift anything heavy for a while. Your healthcare team will tell you when it's safe to lift again.

  • Ask your healthcare team when you can expect to return to work. Unless your job involves lifting, you may be able to return to your normal activities within a couple of days.

  • Take your medicines as directed. Don't skip doses.

  • Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water a day. This is to help flush the contrast dye out of your body. Call your healthcare team if your urine has any change in color.

  • Take your temperature each day for 7 days. If you feel cold and clammy or start sweating, take your temperature right away and call your healthcare team.

  • Check your incisions every day for signs of infection. These include redness, swelling, and drainage. It is normal to have a small bruise or bump where the catheter was inserted. A bruise that is getting larger is not normal and should be reported to your healthcare team. If you see blood forming in the incision, call your healthcare team. Go to the emergency department if you have uncontrolled bleeding from the artery site. This is especially true if you take medicines that make it hard for your blood to clot. Examples are aspirin, clopidogrel, and warfarin.

  • Eat a healthy diet. Make sure it is low in fat, salt, and cholesterol. Ask your healthcare team for diet information.

  • Stop smoking. Enroll in a stop-smoking program or ask your healthcare team for help. Stop-smoking programs can be life saving.

  • Exercise as your healthcare team tells you to. Your healthcare team may recommend you start a cardiac rehabilitation program. Cardiac rehab is an exercise program in which trained healthcare staff watch your progress and stress on your heart while you exercise. Ask your team how to enroll.

  • Don't swim or take baths until your healthcare team says it’s OK. You can shower the day after the procedure. Keep the site clean and dry. This keeps the incision from getting wet and infected until the skin and artery can heal.

  • Be sure to follow all after-care instructions. 

Follow-up care

  • Make a follow-up appointment as advised by our staff. It's common to have a follow-up appointment 2 to 4 weeks after an angioplasty or coronary stent procedure.

  • Make a yearly appointment, too. This is to make sure you are still doing well and not having any new symptoms.

  • Don't wait for a follow-up appointment if your medicines aren't working or you are having heart-related symptoms.

When to seek medical care

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Chest pain

  • Constant or increasing pain or numbness in your leg

  • Fever of 101.1°F or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Symptoms of infection. These include redness, swelling, drainage, or warmth at the incision site.

  • Shortness of breath

  • A leg that feels cold or appears blue

  • Bleeding, bruising, or a lot of swelling where the catheter was inserted

  • Blood in your urine

  • Black or tarry stools

  • Any unusual bleeding