Recovering from cardiac catheterisation and coronary angiography 

After having cardiac catheterisation and coronary angiography, your pulse and blood pressure will be checked and recorded.

If the catheter was inserted into your groin, a nurse may apply pressure for up to 10 minutes to stop the bleeding after the catheter and sheath have been removed.

Sometimes the doctor carrying out the procedure inserts a small surgical plug, a special stitch or another closure device to seal the wound. In these cases, it isn't necessary to apply pressure to the wound.

If the catheter was inserted into your arm, a small pressurised cuff may be placed around your arm. The pressure is gradually decreased over the course of several hours. A nurse will check whether there's any bleeding at the point where the catheter was inserted.

You should be able to sit up straight away and you may be able to walk around soon afterwards if the catheter was inserted into your arm. 

However, if the catheter was inserted into your groin, you'll be asked to lie flat after any bleeding has stopped. If all is well, you'll be asked to sit up after a few hours and you should be able to get up and walk around shortly after.

You should tell the healthcare professionals treating you if you feel unwell at any time after the procedure.

Going home

Most people are able to go home on the same day the procedure is carried out, although you'll need to arrange a lift home from a family member or friend.

You should also make sure that someone stays with you overnight in case you experience any problems.

Most people feel fine a day or so after having the procedure. You may feel a bit tired and the wound site is likely to be tender for up to a week. Any bruising may last for up to two weeks.

Recovery advice

You'll be advised about things to do or avoid during your recovery before leaving hospital. Examples of advice you may be given include:

  • Avoid having a bath for a day or two. You can still take a shower, but try to keep the wound as dry as possible.
  • If you have a plaster on your groin, it can be removed the day after the procedure and it doesn't usually need to be replaced.
  • Don't drive until told that it's safe to do so, which may not be for up to three days.
  • Avoid playing sport, excessive activity or lifting anything heavy for about two days.

Call your GP or NHS 111 if you have concerns about your wound or your recovery in general.

When to seek medical advice

Contact your GP if you experience:

  • any increase in pain, swelling, redness and/or discharge at the wound site
  • a hard, tender lump (larger than the size of a pea) under the skin around your wound
  • a high temperature (fever)
  • discolouration, coldness or numbness in the leg or arm on the same side of the body where the catheter was inserted

If you experience any bleeding from your wound, apply pressure to the area. If the bleeding from your wound doesn't stop or restarts after applying pressure for 10 minutes, dial 999 and ask for an ambulance.

Getting the results

A copy of your angiography results will be sent to your GP and referring specialist (if appropriate).

Depending on the results, you may be advised to:

  • take medication to treat your heart condition
  • have a coronary angioplasty (an interventional procedure to widen the coronary arteries)
  • have heart surgery, such as a coronary artery bypass graft (a surgical procedure to divert blood around clogged arteries)

Page last reviewed: 19/01/2016

Next review due: 19/01/2018