How you prepare

Cardiac catheterization is usually performed in the hospital. The test requires some preparations. Before your test:

  • Don't eat or drink anything for at least 6 hours before your test, or as directed by your doctor. Having food or drink in your stomach can increase your risk of complications from anesthesia. Ask your doctor or nurse if you should take your medications with a small amount of water.

    If you have diabetes, ask for instructions about diabetes medications and insulin. You will usually be able to have something to eat and drink soon after your test.

  • Your doctor may recommend you stop taking blood-thinning medications, such as warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) or naproxen (Aleve).
  • Take all your medications and supplements with you to the test. It's best if you take the original bottles so that your doctor will know the exact dose you take.
  • Try to relax. People who are having a cardiac catheterization may feel anxious or nervous. You'll be given medications to help you relax.

    It's possible that the test will reveal that you need a procedure such as angioplasty right away, or that you could have a side effect from the medication given to you during the catheterization. Being nervous may cause your heart to beat more quickly or irregularly and may complicate the procedure.