If you’ve had angina, dizziness, shortness of breath or other symptoms of heart disease, your cardiologist may recommend a cardiac catheterization. This minimally invasive procedure can be used to treat a cardiovascular problem or to investigate a heart ailment.
A cardiac catheter can be used to perform a number of procedures, including angioplasty or percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI).
Before Your Cardiac Catheterization
- Tell your doctor what medicines you take and about any allergies you have.
- Don’t eat or drink anything after midnight on the night before the procedure.
- You'll likely be admitted to the hospital on the day of the procedure.
- Know that any hair on the skin where the catheter will be inserted may be removed.
- Arrange for an adult family member or friend to drive you home from the hospital.
- You may be given medication to relax.
During the Cardiac Catheterization
- You will receive a local anesthetic to prevent pain at the insertion site.
- The doctor will insert an introducing sheath into a blood vessel in your groin or arm.
- Through the sheath, a catheter is placed inside the artery and guided toward your heart.
- To perform different tests on or check other parts of the heart, the doctor inserts a new catheter or moves the catheter or X-ray machine.
- For some tests, a contrast dye is injected through the catheter.
After Your Cardiac Catheterization
- You will need to remain lying down for 2–12 hours.
- If the insertion site was in your groin, you may be required to lie down with your leg still for several hours.
- A nurse will check your blood pressure and the insertion site.
- You may be asked to drink fluid to help flush the contrast dye out of your system.
- An adult family member or friend will need to drive you home from the hospital.
- It’s normal to find a small bruise or lump at the insertion site. These common side effects should disappear within a few weeks.
When to Call Your Doctor
Call your doctor if you experience any of the following:
- Bleeding, swelling or notice a lump at the insertion site
- Sharp or increasing pain at the insertion site
- You become lightheaded or dizzy
- Leg pain, numbness, or a cold leg or foot
- Severe headache, visual problems or trouble speaking