Left Heart Catheterization


Left Heart Catheterization (Discharge Care) Care Guide

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 primary healthcare provider (PHP) tells you to. Many medicines cannot be used with warfarin. Talk to your PHP about all of the other medicines that you use. Tell your dentist and other caregivers 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. Your PHP uses these tests to decide how much medicine is right for you to take. Take warfarin exactly how your PHP tells you to. Tell your PHP 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 PHP 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 PHP or cardiologist as directed:

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

Limit activity as directed:

If the catheter was put in your groin, keep your leg straight as much as possible. If you need to cough, support the area with your hands. If the catheter was put into your arm, try not to move your arm. Ask your cardiologist how long you will need to limit movement of your arm or leg.

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:

Carefully wash the incision wound with soap and water. Dry the area and put on new, clean bandages as directed. Change your bandages when they get wet or dirty. Ask when you can bathe.

Contact your PHP or 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 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 feel lightheaded, short of breath, and have chest pain.

  • You cough up blood.

  • You have weakness or numbness in your arm, leg, or face.

  • You are confused and have problems speaking or understanding speech.

  • You have a severe headache or feel dizzy.

  • You have vision changes or loss of vision.

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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.