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Heart Disease and Cardiac Catheterization

What Happens During a Cardiac Cath? continued...

When the contrast material is injected into your heart, you may feel hot or flushed. This is normal and will go away in a few seconds. Please tell the doctor or nurses if you feel itching or tightness in the throat, nausea, chest discomfort, or any other symptoms.

The X-ray camera will be used to take photographs of the arteries and heart chambers. Your doctor may ask you to take a deep breath, hold your breath, or to cough during the procedure. You will be asked to hold your breath while the X-rays are taken. When all the photos have been taken, the catheter will be removed and the lights will be turned on.

What Happens After a Cardiac Cath?

If the catheter was inserted in your arm for your cardiac cath, the catheter and sheath are removed. The incision will be bandaged. You will need to keep your arm straight for at least an hour. You will be able to walk around. You will be observed for a few hours to make sure you are feeling well after the procedure. You may receive medication to relieve discomfort in your arm after the anesthetic wears off. You will be given instructions regarding how to care for your arm when you return home. Tell your nurse if you think you are bleeding or feel any numbness or tingling in your fingers.

If the catheter was inserted in your groin, the introducer sheath will be removed and the incision will be closed with stitches, a collagen seal, or applied pressure. In some situations, the introducer sheath may be sutured into place and removed later when the risk of bleeding is lower. A collagen seal is a protein material that works with your body's natural healing processes to form a clot in the artery.

A sterile dressing will be placed on the groin area to prevent infection. You will need to lay flat and keep the leg straight for two to six hours to prevent bleeding. Your head can not be raised more than two pillows high (about 30 degrees). Do not raise your head off the pillows, as this can cause strain in your abdomen and groin. Do not try to sit or stand. The nurse will check your bandage regularly, but tell your nurse if you think you are bleeding (have a wet, warm sensation) or if your toes begin to tingle or feel numb. You may receive medication to relieve discomfort in the groin area after the anesthetic wears off. Your nurse will help you out of bed when you are allowed to get up.

Your doctor's orders will determine when you will be allowed out of bed to go to the bathroom after your cardiac cath. You will need assistance getting out of bed, so ask for help. The nurse will help you sit up and dangle your legs on the side of the bed.

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