Left Heart Catheterization


A left heart catheterization is a procedure to look at your heart and its arteries. You may need this procedure if you have chest pain, heart disease, or your heart is not working as it should.



  • Warfarin: Warfarin is a type of medicine that helps prevent clots from forming in the blood. Clots can cause strokes, heart attacks, and death. Warfarin may cause you to bleed or bruise more easily. If you are taking warfarin:

    • Watch for bleeding from your gums or nose. Watch for blood in your urine and bowel movements. Use a soft washcloth on your skin, and a soft toothbrush to brush your teeth. Doing this can keep your skin and gums from bleeding. If you shave, use an electric shaver. Do not play contact sports.

    • Do not start or stop any medicines unless your healthcare provider tells you to. Many medicines cannot be used with warfarin. Talk to your healthcare providers about all of the other medicines that you use. Tell your dentist and other healthcare providers that you take warfarin. Wear a bracelet or necklace that says you are taking this medicine.

    • You will need to have regular blood tests while you are taking warfarin. These tests are used to decide how much medicine is right for you to take. Take warfarin exactly how your healthcare provider tells you to. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you forget to take the medicine, or if you take too much.

    • Foods and medicines can affect the amount of warfarin in your blood. Do not make major changes to the foods you eat while you take warfarin. Warfarin works best when you eat about the same amount of vitamin K every day. Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables and certain other foods. Ask for more information about what to eat when you are taking warfarin.

  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your cardiologist as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Limit activity as directed:

  • Avoid unnecessary stair climbing for 48 hours, if a catheter was put in your groin.

  • Do not place pressure on your arm, hand, or wrist, if the catheter was placed in your wrist. Avoid pushing, pulling, or heavy lifting with that arm.

  • If you need to cough, support the area where the catheter was inserted with your hand.

  • Ask your cardiologist how long you need to limit movement and avoid certain activities.

  • You may feel like resting more after your procedure. Slowly start to do more each day. Rest when you feel it is needed.

Drink liquids as directed:

Liquids help flush the dye used for your procedure out of your body. Ask your cardiologist how much liquid to drink each day, and which liquids to drink. Some foods, such as soup and fruit, also provide liquid.

Wound care:

Ask your cardiologist about how to care for your incision wound. Ask when you can get into a tub, shower, or pool.

Contact your cardiologist if:

  • You have a fever.

  • The skin around your wound is red, swollen, or has pus coming from it.

  • You have trouble breathing, or your skin is itchy, swollen, or has a rash.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • The area where the catheter was placed is swollen and filled with blood or is bleeding.

  • The leg or arm used for the procedure becomes numb or turns white or blue.

  • You feel lightheaded, short of breath, and have chest pain.

  • You cough up blood.

  • You have any of the following signs of a heart attack:

    • Squeezing, pressure, or pain in your chest that lasts longer than 5 minutes or returns

    • Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm

    • Trouble breathing

    • Nausea or vomiting

    • Lightheadedness or a sudden cold sweat, especially with chest pain or trouble breathing

  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.

  • You have any of the following signs of a stroke:

    • Part of your face droops or is numb

    • Weakness in an arm or leg

    • Confusion or difficulty speaking

    • Dizziness, a severe headache, or vision loss

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.