How do I prepare for my angiography?

You are an important member of your own healthcare team. The steps you take before your procedure can improve your comfort and outcome and help obtain the most accurate results. 

You can prepare for angiography by:

  • Answering all questions about your medical history and medications. This includes prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, herbal treatments, and vitamins. It is a good idea to carry a current list of your medical conditions, medications, and allergies at all times.
  • Arranging for a ride home if you have sedation  
  • Following instructions for eating and drinking before angiography. Stay well hydrated until the time you are told to stop drinking for the procedure.
  • Leaving jewelry, metal objects, credit cards, and other valuables at home
  • Taking or stopping medications exactly as directed. Your doctor will give you specific instructions about taking your medications.
  • Instructions may include not taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and blood thinners. With certain types of contrast dyes, you should not take metformin (Glucophage), an oral medication for diabetes, for 48 hours before and after your angiography. 

Questions to ask your doctor

Having an angiography can be stressful. It is common for patients to forget some of their questions during a doctor’s office visit. You may also think of other questions after your appointment. Contact your doctor about concerns and questions before angiography and between appointments. 

It is also a good idea to bring a list of questions to your appointments. Common questions include:

  • Why do I need angiography? Are there any other options for diagnosing or treating my condition?
  • How long will the procedure take? When can I go home?
  • What will happen if you find a problem or condition during the procedure? Will you treat it right away, or will I need to have another procedure or surgery later?
  • What restrictions will I have after the procedure? When can I return to work and other activities?
  • What kind of assistance will I need at home? Will I need a ride home?
  • How should I take my medications? 
  • How will you treat my pain or anxiety?
  • When and how will I get the results of my test?
  • What other tests or procedures might I need?
  • When should I follow up with you?
  • When and how should I contact you? Ask for numbers to call during and after regular hours.

What can I expect after my angiography?

Knowing what to expect after angiography can help you get back to your everyday life as soon as possible.

How will I feel after the angiography?

You may have mild drowsiness if you receive sedative medications. It is unlikely that you will feel pain after angiography, but it is common to have mild tenderness and bruising at the catheter incision site. Tell your doctor if you are uncomfortable. 

Your activities may be restricted following catheter angiography. Follow your doctor’s instructions for eating, drinking and resting after angiography.

When can I go home?

You will be monitored for about four to six hours after an outpatient catheter angiography before going home. You will likely go home right away after a non-invasive angiography unless you receive sedative medications. The care team will discharge you home when you are fully alert, breathing effectively, and your vital signs are stable. This generally takes less than an hour, depending on the type of sedation you had.

Some people need to stay in the hospital for further treatment and monitoring after an angiography. This is more common if a treatment was performed during the angiography. Common treatments include angioplasty, stent placement, and blood clot removal.

You will need a ride home and cannot drive for about 24 hours if you had sedation. Someone should also stay with you for a day or so. 

When should I call my doctor?

It is important to keep your follow-up appointments after angiography. Contact your doctor for questions and concerns between appointments. Call your doctor right away or seek immediate medical care if you have:

  • Bleeding
  • Breathing problems, such as shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, labored breathing, or wheezing
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Fever
  • Numbness or a feeling of coolness in the arm or leg that was used to insert the catheter
  • Pain
  • Unusual swelling