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After Radial Heart Catheterization


What will happen after a radial heart catheterization?

  • You will be attached to a heart monitor until you are fully awake. A heart monitor is an EKG that stays on continuously to record your heart's electrical activity. Healthcare providers will monitor your vital signs and pulses in your arm. They will frequently check your pressure bandage for bleeding or swelling.
  • You may have a band wrapped tightly around your wrist. The band puts pressure on your wound and helps prevent bleeding. A healthcare provider can put air into the band or remove air from the band. A healthcare provider will gradually remove air from the band and decrease pressure on your wrist. The band may be removed in 2 hours or when your wound stops bleeding.
  • You will need to keep your wrist straight for 2 to 4 hours. Do not push or pull with your arm. Arm movements can cause serious bleeding. After you are monitored for several hours, you may go home or may need to stay in the hospital overnight.

What do I need to know before I go home?

  • Care for your wound as directed. Remove the pressure bandage in 24 hours or as directed. Mild bruising is normal and expected. 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.
  • Shower the day after your procedure or as directed. 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. A small bandage can be placed on your wound after you shower.
  • Apply firm, steady pressure to your wound if it bleeds. Apply pressure with a clean gauze or towel for 5 to 10 minutes. Call 911 if bleeding becomes heavy or does not stop.
  • 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.
  • 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. Take short walks around the house to prevent a blood clot. Ask your healthcare provider when you can return to your normal activities.
  • Do not drive or return to work until your healthcare provider says it is okay. Your healthcare provider may tell you to wait 48 hours before you drive to decrease your risk for bleeding. You may not be able to return to work for at least 2 days after your procedure if your job involves heavy lifting.

What medicines may I need?

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.

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.

When should I seek immediate care?

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

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • 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 wrist.
  • 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.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.

© 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.