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Tips to Recover Quickly From Your Cardiac Catheterization

Tips to Recover Quickly From Your Cardiac Catheterization

Thanks to modern technology, we’re able to perform some fairly extensive cardiac procedures and diagnostics using only a catheter that we insert into a major blood vessel to access your heart. 

This minimally invasive approach to heart health has been a game-changer in terms of recovery, but there are still some things you should do to help the process go more smoothly and quickly.

If you’re scheduled for a cardiac catheterization, fellowship-trained cardiologist Dr. James Kim wants to provide you with a few tips for after your procedure. Of course, we explain all of this in person and provide you with complete aftercare instructions, but a little homework beforehand is always a good idea.

Your incision site

The only outward disturbance of a cardiac catheterization is a small incision — either in your thigh, arm, or neck, where we access a major blood vessel that leads to your heart.


We like to keep the incision site dry for a day or two, but you may be spending this time in a hospital, in any case.

When you get the green light to shower (no baths for the first week), you can remove the bandage and, once you’re dry, you can apply an antibiotic ointment to the incision site and cover it with a new bandage. Keep in mind that it’s perfectly natural for the site to be a little red or bruised for a few days, and it may feel sore.

Within a week, the incision should heal over. If it doesn’t and redness persists or worsens, please call us.

Your activity levels

For the first few days after your cardiac catheterization, we want you to take it easy, but not to the point of immobility. Short walks around the house or in the yard are not only fine, we recommend them. Moving around a little is important to encourage the free flow of healing resources in your body.

We also want you to adapt your activities according to your incision site. For example, if we went in through your groin area, avoid heavy lifting and squats for a week. If we went in through your arm, don’t pick up heavy objects (over 10 pounds) for the first week. 

We also advise that you hold off on sexual activity for the first week if we performed your cardiac catheterization in your thigh or neck.

Activity after a procedure like a cardiac catheterization is a balance — we want you to move around, but we also don’t want you to overdo it. You should listen to your body and, if it feels OK, add more activity as you progress through your recovery. 

In many cases, the goal of a cardiac catheterization is to enable you to move more freely so you can improve your cardiovascular health.

Taking medications

If you want to take medications to ease the discomfort after your procedure, please check with us, especially if we’ve prescribed other medications, such as blood thinners.

Warning signs

In addition to calling us if your incision site isn’t healing well, we also want you to contact us immediately if you develop:

These complications aren’t common, but should they arise, they require immediate attention.

If you have more questions about how to make your recovery go as quickly as possible after a cardiac catheterization, please contact us at one of our offices in Chula Vista or National City, California.

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