When you hear the word catheter, you probably don’t immediately think of a heart procedure. However, there is a whole subset of cardiac testing that falls under the category of cardiac catheterization. One of those procedures is called the angiogram.
Angiography is a diagnostic technique during which a thin tube or catheter is inserted into an artery in either your groin or arm and gently threaded up toward your heart. Once the catheter reaches the coronary arteries around your heart a contrast dye is released into the artery and a chest Xray is taken. The dye allows your cardiologist to get a clear visual of any blockages in the coronary arteries that may cause future difficulties. This common outpatient assessment is done while the patient is awake, though some may be slightly sedated.

If angiography is in your future, it’s important to not only know what to expect during the procedure but also how to care for yourself after the procedure. Here are some things you should bear in mind as you develop your own angiography recovery plan.

Take It Easy
After your angiogram, it’s important to remember that a small incision was made in your artery and that incision needs time to heal. For this reason, it’s important to carefully follow your cardiologists orders when it comes to activity. Often you will be instructed to rest for at least 24 hours, avoid strenuous exercise, and even avoid climbing stairs. Even if you feel totally normal, your body needs time to heal from your recent procedure.

The dye that is injected through your catheter during your angiography makes it easier for your physician to see your coronary arteries more clearly in an Xray. It’s a critical part of this procedure, but can be hard on your kidneys. It’s very important to drink plenty of water in the 24 hours after your assessment to help your body to naturally flush the dye out of your system.

Wound Care
While the wound left at the site of the catheter injection is small, you should nonetheless be careful to follow your doctor’s instructions for care. This may include bandaging the site, keeping it dry, and using ice to reduce swelling.

As always you should pay careful attention to your cardiologist’s instructions for care after your angiography. This includes instructions about how and when to return to taking your regular medications, when you’re cleared for exercise, and what your next steps should be. If you’d like to learn more about this procedure, or would like to speak directly with one of our cardiologists, contact us today.