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After Heart Catheterization
Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:
- You have chest pain.
- You have any of the following signs of a heart attack:
- Squeezing, pressure, or pain in your chest
- You may also have any of the following:
- Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea or vomiting
- Lightheadedness or a sudden cold sweat
- You have any of the following signs of a stroke:
- Numbness or drooping on one side of your face
- Weakness in an arm or leg
- Confusion or difficulty speaking
- Dizziness, a severe headache, or vision loss
- You cough up blood.
- You have trouble breathing.
- You cannot stop the bleeding from your wound even after you hold firm pressure for 10 minutes.
Call your doctor if:
- You have a fever or chills.
- Blood soaks through your bandage.
- Your stitches come apart.
- Your arm or leg feels numb, cool, or looks pale.
- Your wound gets swollen quickly.
- Your wound is red, swollen, or draining pus.
- Your wound looks more bruised or you have new bruising on the side of your leg or arm.
- You have nausea or are vomiting.
- Your skin is itchy, swollen, or you have a rash.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
You may need any of the following:
- Blood thinners help prevent blood clots. Clots can cause strokes, heart attacks, and death. The following are general safety guidelines to follow while you are taking a blood thinner:
- Watch for bleeding and bruising while you take blood thinners. 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. This can keep your skin and gums from bleeding. If you shave, use an electric shaver. Do not play contact sports.
- Tell your dentist and other healthcare providers that you take a blood thinner. Wear a bracelet or necklace that says you take this medicine.
- Do not start or stop any other medicines unless your healthcare provider tells you to. Many medicines cannot be used with blood thinners.
- Take your blood thinner exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Do not skip does or take less than prescribed. Tell your provider right away if you forget to take your blood thinner, or if you take too much.
- Warfarin is a blood thinner that you may need to take. The following are things you should be aware of if you take warfarin:
- Foods and medicines can affect the amount of warfarin in your blood. Do not make major changes to your diet 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.
- You will need to see your healthcare provider for follow-up visits when you are on warfarin. You will need regular blood tests. These tests are used to decide how much medicine you need.
- Acetaminophen helps decrease pain and fever. This medicine is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much medicine is safe to take, and how often to take it. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
- 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 or her 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.
You may be able to shower the day after your procedure. Remove your pressure bandage before you shower. Do not take baths or go in hot tubs or pools. Carefully wash the wound with soap and water. Pat the area dry.
Care for your wound as directed:
Change your bandage when it gets wet or dirty. A small bandage can be placed on your wound after you remove the pressure bandage. Do not put powders, lotions, or creams on your wound. They may cause your wound to get infected. Monitor your wound every day for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or pus. Mild bruising is normal and expected.
If bleeding from your wound occurs:
Apply firm, steady pressure to stop the bleeding. Apply pressure with a clean gauze or towel for 5 to 10 minutes. Call 911 if bleeding becomes heavy or does not stop.
Do not lift anything heavier than 5 pounds until directed by your healthcare provider. Heavy lifting can put stress on your wound and cause bleeding. Do not push or pull with the arm that was used for the procedure. Do not do vigorous activity for at least 48 hours. Vigorous activity may cause bleeding from your wound. Rest and do quiet activities. Short walks to the bathroom and around the house are okay. Limit your stair climbing to prevent bleeding. Ask your healthcare provider when you can return to your normal activities.
Do not strain when you have a bowel movement:
Your wound may bleed if you strain to have a bowel movement. Keep your legs flat on the floor and your hips at a 90° angle. Talk to your healthcare provider if you are constipated. You may need medicine to make it easier for you to have a bowel movement and to prevent straining.
Drink liquids as directed:
Liquids will help flush the contrast liquid from your body. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you.
Ask your healthcare provider when it is okay for you to drive. He or she may tell you to wait 48 hours before you drive to decrease your risk for bleeding.
Returning to work:
You may not be able to return to work for at least 2 days after your procedure if your job involves heavy lifting. Ask your healthcare provider when it is okay for you to return to work.
Healthy living tips:
The following are general healthy guidelines. If your chest pain is caused by a heart problem, your healthcare provider will give you specific guidelines to follow.
- Manage other health conditions. Diabetes and high cholesterol increases your risk for another heart attack and stroke. Talk to your healthcare provider about your management plan. He or she will make a plan that helps you manage your conditions.
- Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause lung and heart damage. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
- Eat a variety of healthy, low-fat, low-salt foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Ask for more information about a heart healthy diet.
- Drink plenty of water every day. Your body is made of mostly water. Water helps your body to control your temperature and blood pressure. Ask your healthcare provider how much water you should drink every day.
- Ask about activity. Your healthcare provider will tell you which activities to limit or avoid. Ask when you can drive, return to work, and have sex. Ask about the best exercise plan for you.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Ask your healthcare provider how much you should weigh. Ask him or her to help you create a weight loss plan if you are overweight.
- Get the flu and pneumonia vaccines. All adults should get the influenza (flu) vaccine. Get it every year as soon as it becomes available. The pneumococcal vaccine is given to adults aged 65 years or older. The vaccine is given every 5 years to prevent pneumococcal disease, such as pneumonia.
If you have a stent:
- Carry your stent card with you at all times.
- Let all healthcare providers know that you have a stent.
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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.
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