Skip to main content

Left Heart Catheterization

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 2, 2022.

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.


Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • Your catheter site does not stop bleeding even after you apply firm pressure for 10 minutes.
  • 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 feel lightheaded, short of breath, or have chest pain.
  • You cough up blood.

Seek care immediately if:

  • The catheter site is swollen and filled with blood or is bleeding.
  • The leg or arm used for your procedure is numb, painful, or changes color.
  • The bruise at your catheter site gets bigger or becomes swollen.
  • You are dizzy or have a severe headache or vision loss.
  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.

Call your doctor if:

  • You have a fever.
  • Your catheter site is red, leaks pus, or smells bad.
  • You have increasing pain at your catheter site.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Limit activity as directed:

  • You may feel like resting more after your procedure. Slowly start to do more each day. Rest when you feel it is needed. Ask your healthcare provider how long you need to limit movement and avoid certain activities. He or she will tell you when you can return to your usual daily activities.
  • If the catheter was placed in your wrist, do not place pressure on your arm, hand, or wrist. Do not push, pull, or lift anything heavy with that arm.
  • If the catheter was placed in your leg, support the catheter site with your hand if you need to cough.

Care for the procedure area:

Your healthcare provider will give you specific instructions. This will include when you can take a shower. Do not soak in a bathtub, pool, or hut tub until your provider says it is okay. Check the area each day for signs of infection, such as swelling, redness, or pus.

Drink liquids as directed:

Liquids help flush the contrast liquid used for your procedure out. Ask your healthcare provider how much liquid to drink each day, and which liquids to drink. Do not drink alcohol for 24 hours after your procedure.

Follow up with your doctor as directed:

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

© Copyright Merative 2022 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

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.

Further information

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