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. Contrast fluid is injected into your blood, which then flows to your heart. Finally, X-rays pictures are taken of your heart. Your doctor 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

  • 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.

  • Avoid heavy lifting for a while. Your doctor will provide a specific time frame for you.

  • Ask your doctor 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. Do not skip doses.

  • Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water a day. This is to help flush the contrast dye out of your body.

  • Take your temperature each day for 7 days.

  • Check your incisions daily 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 doctor.

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

  • Stop smoking. Enroll in a stop-smoking program or ask your doctor for help.

  • Exercise as advised by your doctor. Depending on your situation, your doctor may recommend you start a cardiac rehabilitation program.

  • Do not swim or take baths until the doctor says it’s OK. You can shower the day after the procedure.  

Follow-up care

Make a follow-up appointment as advised by our staff.

When to seek medical care

Call your doctor immediately if you have any of the following:

  • Chest pain

  • Constant or increasing pain or numbness in your leg

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38.0°C) or higher

  • Symptoms of infection (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



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