Cardiac catheterization - discharge
Cardiac catheterization involves passing a thin flexible tube (catheter) into the right or left side of the heart. The catheter is most often inserted from the groin or the arm. This article discusses how to care for yourself when you leave the hospital.
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When You're in the Hospital
A catheter was inserted into an artery in your groin or arm. Then it was carefully guided up to your heart. Once it reached your heart, the catheter was placed into the arteries that deliver blood to your heart. Then contrast dye was injected. The dye allowed your doctor to see any areas in your coronary arteries that were blocked or narrowed.
If you had a blockage, you may have had angioplasty and a stent placed in your heart during the procedure.
What to Expect at Home
You may feel pain in your groin or arm where the catheter was placed. You may also have some bruising around and below the incision that was made to insert the catheter.
In general, people who have angioplasty can walk around within 6 hours after the procedure. Complete recovery takes a week or less. Keep the area where the catheter was inserted dry for 24 to 48 hours. If the catheter was inserted into your arm, recovery is often faster.
If the doctor put the catheter in through your groin:
If the doctor put the catheter in your arm:
For a catheter in your groin or arm:
You will need to take care of your incision.
Many people take aspirin, often with another medicine such as clopidogrel (Plavix), prasugrel (Efient), or ticagrelor (Brilinta), after this procedure. These medicines are blood thinners, and they keep your blood from forming clots in your arteries and stent. A blood clot can lead to a heart attack. Take the medicines exactly as your provider tells you. DO NOT stop taking them without talking to your provider.
You should eat a heart-healthy diet, exercise, and follow a healthy lifestyle. Your provider can refer you to other health experts who can help you learn about exercise and healthy foods that will fit into your lifestyle.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your provider if:
Mauri L, Bhatt DL. Percutaneous coronary intervention. In: Mann DL, Zipes DP, Libby P, Bonow RO, Braunwald E, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 55.
Vandvik PO, Lincoff AM, Gore JM, et al. Primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease: antithrombotic therapy and prevention of thrombosis. 9th ed. American College of Chest Physicians Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guidelines. Chest. 2012;141(2 Suppl):e637S-e668S. PMID: 22315274 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22315274.
Review Date: 8/2/2016
Reviewed By: Michael A. Chen, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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