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Left Heart Catheterization


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



  • Blood thinners: This medicine helps prevent clots from forming in the blood. Clots can cause strokes, heart attacks, and death. Blood thinners make it more likely for you to bleed or bruise. Use an electric razor and soft toothbrush to help prevent bleeding.
  • Steroids: This medicine may be given to decrease redness, pain, and swelling.
  • Take your medicine as directed: Call your primary 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 primary healthcare provider or cardiologist as directed:

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

Care guidelines:

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 primary healthcare provider how long you will need to limit movement of your arm or leg.

Drink liquids:

Liquids help flush the dye used for your procedure out of your body. Ask your primary healthcare provider 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 for instructions about how to care for your incision wound. You will need information on how to keep the area clean, and how often to change bandages. Ask when you can bathe. Your primary healthcare provider will show you how to cover the area to keep it dry when you bathe.

Contact your primary healthcare provider or cardiologist if:

  • 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.

Return to the emergency department 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.
  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
  • You suddenly feel lightheaded and have trouble breathing.
  • You have chest pain that increases when you take a deep breath or cough. You may 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.
  • You have pain, pressure, or fullness in your chest that lasts more than a few minutes or returns.
  • You have pain or discomfort in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm.
  • You have shortness of breath that is so severe you cannot talk.
  • You have an upset stomach.
  • You have a sudden cold sweat.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.