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Angiogram: What to Expect at Home

Your Recovery

An angiogram is an X-ray test that uses dye and imaging to take pictures of the blood flow in an artery or a vein. The doctor inserted a thin, flexible tube (catheter) into a blood vessel in your groin. In some cases, the catheter is placed in a blood vessel in the arm.

An angiogram is done for many reasons. For example, you may have an angiogram to find the source of bleeding, such as an ulcer. Or it may be done to look for blocked blood vessels in your lungs.

After an angiogram, your groin or arm may have a bruise and feel sore for a day or two. You can do light activities around the house but nothing strenuous for several days.

Your doctor may give you specific instructions on when you can do your normal activities again, such as driving and going back to work.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to feel better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for yourself at home?


  • Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover.
  • The first 24 hours after your procedure: Do not drive or operate equipment. You can walk around the house and do light activity, such as cooking.
  • Try to walk each day. Start by walking a little more than you did the day before. Bit by bit, increase the amount you walk. Walking boosts blood flow and helps prevent pneumonia and constipation. If you feel unsteady, have someone walk with you.
  • Do not do strenuous exercise or hard activity for at least 1 to 2 weeks or until your doctor says this is okay.
  • If the catheter was placed in your groin: Do not lift any heavy objects (more than 4.5 kg or 10 lb.) for 3 days after your procedure. Avoid using stairs where possible for a couple days. Take 1 step at a time and always lead with the leg that did not have the catheter.
  • If the catheter was placed in your arm: Do not lift any heavy objects (more than 2.5 kg or 5 pounds) for 3 days after your procedure. Do not bend your wrist deeply. Be careful when using your wrist and hand to get into and out of a chair or bed. Avoid having your blood pressure checked or an intravenous (I.V.) started on the arm used during the procedure for 24 hours.


  • Drink plenty of fluids to help your body flush out the dye. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.
  • You can eat your normal diet. If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.


  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • If you stopped taking aspirin or some other blood thinner, your doctor will tell you when to start taking it again.
  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. He or she will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.

Care of the procedure site

  • You will have a dressing over the incision (the cut the doctor made). A dressing helps the incision heal and protects it.
  • You may have a closure device to help seal the incision. This will help to reduce your time on bedrest after the procedure.
  • After 24 hours, if your doctor says it is okay, you may remove the dressing and take a shower. Pat the incision dry. Avoid creams, lotions, and ointments on the procedure site. Put on a new dressing every day until the incision is healed.
  • Do not soak the procedure site in a bath, hot tub, or swimming pool until it is completely healed (no longer has a scab).
  • Keep the procedure site clean and watch for bleeding. A small amount of blood (up to the size of a quarter) on the bandage can be normal.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

When should you call for help?

If you start bleeding more than is normal or have a fast growing, painful lump at the procedure site, call 911 and do the following:

  1. Lie down and call for help (family or friend).
  2. Apply pressure using your fingers or fist at the procedure site. Hold this pressure for 20 minutes.
  3. If the bleeding stops—lie still, keep flat until emergency help arrives.
  4. If the bleeding does not stop—keep firm pressure to the procedure site until emergency help arrives.

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have severe trouble breathing.
  • You have sudden chest pain and shortness of breath, or you cough up blood.

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You are bleeding from the area where the catheter was put in your artery.
  • You have a fast-growing, painful lump at the catheter site.
  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the incision.
    • Pus draining from the incision.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for any changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • You don't get better as expected.

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