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Heart Disease Health Center

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Heart Disease and Cardiac Catheterization

How Should I Prepare for a Cardiac Cath? continued...

Leave all valuables at home. If you normally wear dentures, glasses, or a hearing device, plan to wear them during the procedure.

Your doctor or nurse will give you specific instructions about what you can and cannot eat or drink before the procedure.

Tell your doctor all of the medications you are currently taking, including herbal preparations and dietary supplements.

Ask your doctor what medications should be taken on the day of your test. You may be told to stop taking certain drugs, such as Coumadin (a blood thinner), for a few days before the procedure.

If you have diabetes, ask your doctor how to adjust your diabetes medications the day of your cardiac cath.

Tell your doctor and/or nurses if you are allergic to anything, especially iodine, shellfish, X-ray dye, latex, or rubber products (such as rubber gloves or balloons) or penicillin-type medications.

You may or may not return home the day of your procedure. Bring items with you (such as a robe, slippers, and toothbrush) to make your stay more comfortable. When you are able to return home, arrange for someone to bring you home.

How Long Does Cardiac Catheterization Last?

Cardiac cath usually takes about 30 minutes, but the preparation and recovery time add several hours. Plan on being at the hospital all day for the procedure.

What Happens During a Cardiac Cath?

You will be given a hospital gown to wear during your cardiac cath. A nurse will start an intravenous (IV) line in your arm so that medications and fluids can be administered through your vein during the procedure.

The cardiac catheterization room is cool and dimly lit. You will lie on a special table. If you look above, you will see a large camera and several TV monitors. You can watch the pictures of your cardiac cath on the monitors.

The nurse will clean your skin (and possibly shave) the site where the catheter will be inserted (arm or groin). Sterile drapes are used to cover the site and help prevent infection. It is important that you keep your arms and hands down at your sides and not disturb the drapes.

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