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After Heart Catheterization


Call 911 for any of the following:

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

Seek care immediately if:

  • Blood soaks through your bandage.
  • Your stitches come apart.
  • Your arm or leg feels numb, cool, or looks pale.
  • Your wound gets swollen quickly.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever or chills.
  • 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. Examples of blood thinners include heparin and warfarin. 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 anticoagulants. Wear a bracelet or necklace that says you take this medicine.
    • Do not start or stop any medicines unless your healthcare provider tells you to. Many medicines cannot be used with blood thinners.
    • Tell your healthcare provider right away if you forget to take the medicine, 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. Call 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.


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 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.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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.