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How to Prepare for Your Cardiac Catheterization

  1. Your doctor's office will schedule your procedure in advance and inform you of the date and time. The will also arrange pre-admission testing for you which consists of blood work and an EKG.
  2. Do not to eat or drink anything after midnight prior to your procedure.
  3. Speak to your physician whether or not you should continue to take your medications on the day of your procedure. If you routinely take blood thinners, you will be instructed to discontinue them a few days before the procedure in order to decrease the risks of bleeding. If you are diabetic, your insulin and diet should be discussed with your physician in order to control your blood sugar during the procedure.
  4. You must have a designated driver to transport you home after your procedure since you may receive sedation. We advise that you pack an overnight bag in case your doctor admits you overnight for observation.

What to expect during your catheterization:

  1. You may be given sedation to make you drowsy during the procedure, but you will be awake.
  2. You may experience a warm, tingly sensation as the dye goes through the arteries. If the dye is injected into the pumping chamber of the heart, you may experience a "hot sensation” all over your body that will quickly pass. This is normal.
  3. You may be asked to take deep breaths, cough, or hold your breath for a few seconds during the catheterization for diagnostic purposes.

After your catheterization:

  1. You will be told the results immediately following your procedure and detailed written reports will be sent to your referring physician(s).
  2. You will be instructed to lie flat for two to six hours post procedure as instructed by your physician. Your head may be slightly elevated at a 30-degree angle. You will be asked to not move your leg to prevent bleeding.
  3. Some patients will have a closure device placed in the insertion site by their cardiologist. If a closure device is not used, the sheath will need to be removed. Direct pressure will be applied to the insertion site for approximately 20 minutes to prevent bleeding. Your vital signs will be monitored continuously during this time. Once again you will be asked to lay flat for the time period instructed by your doctor and not move your leg if the insertion site was in your groin.
  4. You must drink plenty of fluids after the procedure to help flush the dye out of your system.
  5. Inform your nurse if you experience symptoms of weakness, shortness of breath, bleeding, dizziness, chest pain that radiates to your neck, jaw, arms or upper back, or sudden discomfort at the insertion site.

Instructions for all non-invasive testing:

  1. You need a written prescription from your doctor and a referral if required by your insurance plan.
  2. You may be asked to remove clothing above the waist and put on a hospital gown. We recommend you wear a buttoned blouse or shirt without an undershirt for easy access to your chest. We also suggest you wear comfortable, loose fitting clothes and a comfortable pair of walking shoes or sneakers if you are having an exercise stress test.
  3. On the day of your test, please do not apply any creams, lotions or powders to your chest, arms, or legs.
  4. Depending on the type of test you are having, an intravenous (I.V.) tube may be placed into a vein in your arm so that sedatives or medications may be given through it.
  5. Remember not eat or drink anything for the allotted amount of time before your test as instructed by your doctor. This is especially true if anesthesia will be administered.
  6. Speak with your physician to determine whether you should stop any medications prior to or on the day of your scheduled test. Contact your physician for special instructions if you are a diabetic, on insulin, or taking oral diabetic medications.