Heart Cath Terrified: Hello all, Having... - British Heart Fou...

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Heart Cath Terrified


Hello all, Having a heart cath with the camera tomorrow where they thread up through your veins. I'm going to ask for sedation as I am extremely anxious. Does the sedation work. What's it like having one. I'm going in as a day case. How long will I have to actually be there for if I'm in at 8.00am. Thanks so much everyone X

82 Replies

It’s not a problem Cath. It sounds far worse than it really is. Stay calm-you’ll be fine!

I was there for around two hours before the actual procedure termed a heart cath by my cardiologist (but the nurses called an angiogram) - got the double 'joy' of the insertion at the wrist for the angio and as an extra special bonus was treated to a simultaneous 'right heart study' through the 'upper thigh' (aka 'groin' but ladies don't use that word:) ).

I am the Queen of Needle-Phobes so I begged them to give me the maximum amount of what they called 'anxiety relief' - LOL, the blissful fog didn't lift for three days. Trust me, unless you've a very high tolerance for pain relieving medications, you will have the same blissful three day fog I did.

The cath lab folks are brilliant no matter where you have the procedure, you'll be surprised around noon once you're in the recovery area at how easy it really was and you'll likely be out the door close to 4pm-ish at the latest.

I will suggest you prepare yourself for the sight of some bruising at the insertion point, mine were so gruesome the first time I looked (the day after) that I never looked again; the upper and lower bruising took a number of weeks to finally fade but the achy-ouchie went away after a few days - be sure to ask what over-the-counter pain relief you can have ready at home.

Also, if they go in through your wrist, I strongly recommend you avoid tight cuffs on tops and any jacket or coat you need to wear. My favourite winter weight coat has inner knit cuffs and wow did that coat go back in the press quickly in favour of a different coat without the inner knit cuff. Same with my favourite PJ top so it was short sleeves for me for around three weeks to keep from aggravating the insertion point.

Gaz_chops in reply to Sunnie2day

You almost make me want to have a go, just to experience the '3 day fog' 🤣 but only ALMOST 😅

I KNEW I shouldn't have been all macho about mine & opted for no meds :D

You don’t know what you missed 😂😂😂

I had mine through the groin with NO MEDS didn't even blink

Gaz_chops in reply to Gaz_chops

I believe I was in a coma at the time though, so not sure that counts as macho

I just wanted to see what was happening.

Still keep meaning to find out if they record the imaging because it'd be really cool to have a copy of someone poking round inside your heart :D

I was able to watch most of my procedure (angiogram, blockage cleared and stent fitted) on the monitors placed above the operating table. It was interesting. I left with it on cd but won't be able to watch that until I have access to a pc (won't play on a Mac).

I watched while it was happening but wasn't offered a CD and didn't think to ask at the time.

It was only a few days later that I thought they're missing a trick there - would have been happy to pay for a copy like a new mum with an ultrasound :D

I asked for any images they may have the day after my angioplasty. One of the theatre crew appears about 30 minutes later with A4 before & after images from the scanner of my blockers, the guide wire can be quite clearly seen

Blockages! (Bloody predictive text)

Wooodsie in reply to Sunnie2day

Hi Tori, you're back online then 😊👍

Sunnie2day in reply to Wooodsie

:) I'm not Tori (aka Buddy2Blue) but I do get knocked offline every time it rains where I live in NE Scotland:)

Boxroad in reply to Sunnie2day

Did you have stents fitted?

Sunnie2day in reply to Boxroad

No, my coronaries were completely clear. My cardiologist now feels I have microvascular angina (MVA, on top of a few other well-managed heart conditions) which he hopes to confirm as a diagnosis with another angio using acetylcholine provocation.

The 'regular' angio doesn't confirm or rule MVA and the queue for the specialised angio is years long up here where I am. I keep being moved to the back of the queue owing to how well I'm responding to the beta blocker+aspirin+as needed GTN regime, if things worsen I'll be moved up the queue as a matter of urgency - and I am quite happy to remain at the back of the queue:)

Afternoon Jane

Have sent you a message.


sent you a message

Hi there! I had an angiogram at Barts through my wrist in early January. I, like you, was extremely apprehensive before the procedure - something about the nature of the procedure just put me on edge! I can honesty say there was no need.

I remember when the staff came to take me down I told then I was nervous. They were extremely understanding, and explained at various points what was going to happen, what I would experience etc. I remember quite a few staff in the room - various nurses and consultants, all very nice.

In terms of what I felt/experienced, I can honestly say I felt very little - I only remember feeing a slight sensation as they were removing everything (more of a “oh that was unusual” and certainly not scary or uncomfortable).

Having experienced it, If someone said I needed another angiogram tomorrow I would be ok with going.

I’d suggest just letting them know how you’re feeling before you go in if you’re anxious, and Im sure they will treat you well!

Hi, I had my first angiogram on the 18th Dec last year.Like you ,I was really,really nervous. Arrived at the hospital at 8am..along with 8 others. We were all put in a ward in separate bays. The nurses came round very quickly to do bp etc and give blood thinners and to insert a cannula for the sedation (this was just a bit like having a blood test)

I went to the cath lab at 9 am and said how nervous I was and they said “a good dose of sedative for you then” I was still aware of everything but felt nothing, only an aching in my arms when they tried to insert a stent, nothing that I couldn’t manage though. Then a firm pushing on wrist where they went in.

The next thing I was back in the ward...the procedure took about 45mins, but strangely you have no sense of time and it felt like 5mins!

I can assure you that the thought of the procedure is really concerning, but in reality I found it simple and not painful.

I felt completely normal within an hour of being back on the ward and went home at 5pm.

I did have a mild bruise on my wrist for a few days and didn’t lift anything heavy for a few days as advised.

Hope this helps and don’t worry, this time tomorrow you will be home and done x😁

Boxroad in reply to Maisywhippet

Did you have stents fitted? I have mine at Basildon in three weeks time

Maisywhippet in reply to Boxroad

Hi, no they didn’t manage to get a stent in for fear of compromising another branch. Apparently I am now a candidate for CAB, or angioplasty to widen the artery for a stent...decision is still to be made and I was due a telephone appointment around 18th of Feb..but have heard nothing as yet! I feel fine though as they did manage to widen the blockage with a drug coated balloon which was then removed immediately after.

I was told this should hopefully work short/med term.

But do feel like I’ve still got the problem in the background to be dealt with...and really am not keen on the CAB option‼️😨

Boxroad in reply to Maisywhippet

Are you in the uk

Maisywhippet in reply to Boxroad


Boxroad in reply to Maisywhippet

Have you had anything sorted yet? I am sorry your not getting the support at home, we need as much support as possible when going though hard times, what hospital did you go in?

Maisywhippet in reply to Boxroad

Still waiting on cardio decision...I think they’re all running behind due to covid! Was referred to Worthing for angio procedure. Did you say you’re having 3 stents, are they you’re first procedure?

Boxroad in reply to Maisywhippet

I am not sure but could be three maybe at same time as coronary angiogram

Maisywhippet in reply to Boxroad

You’ll be fine and will certainly notice the difference when done. I’m a real coward and was bricking it on the days before, but it was simple.. as I said in another post, once you’ve had sedation you have no sense of time and before you know it you’re done and back on the ward....give us an update as things go on.

Boxroad in reply to Maisywhippet

My scan also showed up Nobuls on my lungs, and due to covid I still have not seen anyone about that. My ears are constantly humming as with lungs still not been able to see anyone, I had my covid jab last week so fingers crossed things soon get moving


I’ve had two angiograms and they are worlds apart.. the first was terrifying and I wish my heart attack had made me pass out so I couldn’t remember it, the other was very calm and honestly unnoticeable.

You will be having the second version as it’s a scheduled angiogram.. the sedation is very good and although you’ll be awake you won’t really be too bothered.

In hindsight no where near as bad as I thought it would be..

All the best

One way of passing the time if you are curious is to ask if you can look at the screens as they do it. Quite fascinating.

Hi I had one almost 3 years ago I was the same as you I thought I would fall apart but trust me it’s actually not bad they explain everything to you it dousent hurt one bit it’s just the thought of it I think you will be fine I promise try to calm yourself godbless you ??

I had a heart cath this past December due to a blockage in an artery. No sedation, just a local anesthesia. As others have said, it took about 45 minutes, and really wasn't that bad. I did have some bruising and discomfort in the following days but that was all gone by the end of the following month. Hopefully your procedure will have been even better than mine.

Boxroad in reply to Will_2

Did you have stents fitted

Will_2 in reply to Boxroad

Yes, I had one stent fitted - in the LAD artery where the blockage was. The docs have me on clopidogrel and 81 mg aspirin as blood thinners and so far I have had no problems with the stent. If you have a procedure in three weeks I hope yours goes well too. I'm actually back to walking 4 to 5 km daily.

Boxroad in reply to Will_2

That’s good news, did you feel the difference right away? Where did you have yours fitted? Did you have to stay overnight?

Will_2 in reply to Boxroad

I could feel the difference right away as I had been having unstable angina and sometimes walking a hundred meters could bring on chest pains. That disappeared completely right after the procedure.

I'm actually in the USA and so my procedure was done as an outpatient. The procedure was started about 1 pm, over by 2 pm, and I was home by 4:30 pm!


Same as everyone else really. I was terrified as well and pass out if I see a needle but it was completely painless and a doddle.

You will be fine, I know it’s easy to say but try to stay calm. I find rescue remedy helps me.

Hope it all goes well.


Alison_L in reply to Samgeorge

... with the usual proviso that you should talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking Rescue Remedy or other non-prescribed supplements and vitamins :)

Samgeorge in reply to Alison_L

Yep, good point that I missed 😉


I had an angiogram a few weeks ago here in Germany. I was really anxious about it like you. I arrived at 7:30am, was on the table in the cath lab at 8:00 and done and back in recovery by 8:30. They went in through the groin. The only ‘pain’ I felt was getting the IV placed. Right after they placed the IV they gave me some diazepam. That did the trick. I didn’t even feel when they numbed my leg or inserted the cath. I watched what they did on the screens as they did it.

After the procedure, they keep us for 4 hours in recovery just to make sure everything is good with the pressure bandage on the artery.

I was told to bring all my stuff for an overnight stay in case they had to place a stent, which they didn’t. So, I was in and out in about 5 hours total, did the whole thing in a foreign language and really couldn’t have been more pleased with how everything went in the end.

It’s normal to feel anxious about it. It seems like a really scary procedure at face value. But it’s become quite a routine procedure for them and you’ll be safe and sound and get through it with flying colors I’m sure.

Good luck and let us know how it goes!


Ask for extra sedation I did and they did give it to me, its makes a lot of difference, I was much more relaxed than I was the previous time. I think it's not knowing which is worse.

Good luck xx


You have NOTHING to worry about. Its painless and straightforward. The sedative works a treat and relaxes you. I had ablation through my groin and up into my heart, where the cauterized the bad circuitry. I never felt a thing and I come out in a cold sweat at the thought of visiting the hospital!!

Believe me, it will all be over in a flash and you will be wondering why you were so anxious. I would imagine the whole process will last no more than 30 minutes if it's a straight investigation.

As everyone else has said after the sedation it is a piece of cake - the worse bit for me were the ambulance transfers before and after the procedure as our little district hospital doesnt have the kit. Really embarrassing to be travel sick in the back of an ambulance!

I told the doctor I was anxious and his reply was “Don’t worry, I’m just about to give you your shot of gin and tonic”!

This “gin and tonic” did the trick and I felt totally relaxed, even elated and fascinated to see what was going on!! So you will be fine....

It really is no big deal. As for how long you’ll have to wait? Well it’s the NHS......

Had it done five times and probably more to come, but honestly there is nothing to it. The worst part for me is keeping perfectly still lol. All the very best to you.

I’ve had four!

I was told to take a packed lunch as they did not supply food, and I’m glad I did. After my angiogram I was starving.

I did have sedation twice. After the first time I kept asking for my triple G&T bartender 😜

On two occasions I was able to see the screens and I was amazed seeing the inside of my arteries, simply amazing!

I was asking questions and they were explaining what was happening.

The first time I had the investigation. The next twice I had five stents. The last time was exploratory.

By then I was calling the nurses by name like old friends. I was told that because I’m there so often I might get an invite to their Christmas party 😂

The effect of my G&T was gone by the time I got back to the ward though.

Nothing to worry about, you’ll be fine.👍


My name is Bond, James Bond and I take my soluble aspirin shaken not stirred 🍸

Handel in reply to -007-

😂😂😂 xx

I had the same procedure in Nov last year. I understand your conceens. If it is anything like my experience you have nothing to worry about. I didnt feel a thing and was amazed when i was told it was all finished. Literally did not feel any pain or discomforr.

Hi Cath, I've had 3 catheter ablations. I stayed in overnight on all occasions - no reason, just what they did at that hospital. Don't worry about it. I had sedation and was out of it for the entire time. Bit of bruising round the groin. Bit tired the next day. All the best,

Great to hear the procedure is straightforward and virtually painless! My cardiologist wants to do an investigation by this type of procedure. I'm not looking forward to it but greatly reassured by everyone's comments, thank you. Do come back and let us know how you get on IITB9.

Hi its not bad at all. You wont feel the cath going in - i had it in my wrist. No bruises at all. I had to keep still and could watch it on a large screen. I did feel some pain in my heart but was given morphine which worked straight away. Good luck.

What are you having done exactly? An EP study or angiogram?

Hi is it a right heart cath through the neck? If it is I have had loads over the years, my hospital doesn't offer sedation, It is not the best way to spend half an hour or so but nothing like an angiogram, local annisthetic is given to the place of entry which is definitely a bit stingy, the Dr checks the veins with ultrasound and inserts the catheter, the worst bit is then over, we have the radio on and off they go, sometimes I have had a peak at the screen which is quite fascinating but mostly I listen to the music and the medics, I have never felt anything after the initial local going in, I have never felt the catheter coming out, I have also had a couple of heart biopsies done the same way, I still get a bit nervous going for it but it is so routine to them they quickly put your mind at ease, when they are finished they put a large plaster over it, After about 15 minutes or so you can go home, it's fine to drive, wishing you well and I am sure everything will be fine take care char

The day I had my last one they had a couple of emergencies and my Noon did not happen until well after 5pm and they did not let me out until after 10 pm. They were short of beds so I was put in the ladies ward for my observation :-)

The first one I had was over in no time. He had fiddled about getting the catheter into my groin and walked over to a bench at the other side of the cath lab where there was a monitor. After a while I called out when are you going to do it. He replied Do it, I'm watching the action replay and turned the screen round so that I could see it.

That one as with my next two was clear and showed that their previous tests were false positives. Evidently quite a common happening.

As one nurse told me the cath lab is the safest place in the world.

I've now had 3 angiograms (2 of which were angioplasties). At the last one I asked for extra sedation, but I still cried all the way through it and they had to keep adding more sedation. I missed out on the 3-day fog afterwards, so altogether an unpleasant experience. Sorry to be negative.

Sunnie2day in reply to Alison_L

You must have a very high tolerance to pain meds. I'm so sorry to hear you had such an awful experience, I know I couldn't have got through mine without the max dose and honestly can only begin to imagine what it must have been like for you:(

Alison_L in reply to Sunnie2day

It wasn't so much the pain, Sunnie, as the anxiety. My consultant has told me I have a form of PTSD following my HA, and I struggle to get through meetings with medics without bursting into tears, let alone procedures like PCIs :(

Sunnie2day in reply to Alison_L

I can definitely empathise - before my emergency pericardiocentesis, medical needles were not my idea of fun but after I became exceptionally needle-phobic which morphed to hospital-phobic. I'm 'pretty much' past the hospital-phobic state but needles, IVs, angio wires...I don't cry, I throw up the anxiety is so bad.

I try to laugh it off but the truth is it isn't a laughing matter at all.

Alison_L in reply to Sunnie2day

I agree it's not a laughing matter - I joke that they have to give me enough sedative to knock out an elephant!

Had one through wrist and another through groin with 4 stents inserted, 3 of them in LAD. I’m in Tennessee in the U.S. but my experience was totally painless. Got on this forum years ago by accident but y’all are so cool I just stayed 😂 I love when y’all say things like “mate”! You’ll be fine don’t worry!.

Good luck

The thought of all these procedures is normally much worse than the activity. I am sure you will be fine. My approach was first to talk a lot and then to think of all the capitals in the world (still working on that!). X Pablo 😎⚽️🍷

Yep! I love my wee corner of the Kingdom but living in a small town down a 'goat track' does have its disadvantages, 'Net access being the biggest one so really, I am not complaining (much, lol).

Internet access disruptions owing to incessant rain is a bit of a pain especially during lockdowns, but rain is doable - complainers up here are oft reminded it's not bad weather, lol, it's bad clothing! (er, including the 'rain-proofing' around the lines bringing the Internet to our houses back here - the engineers keep saying the box is scheduled to be replaced...they've been saying that the past two years).

I agree with potter52. I've had three angiograms like that so far. The first one was 2 hours post heart attack and cardiac arrest, so the angio was the least of my worries . I was just glad to be fixed. I needed a second a couple of days later to stent another artery and like you I was really worried about it, but it was fine and I went home the same day.

Had the third this summer to check the stents as I have started to suffer angina. Was able to look at the screens and get an explanation of what was going on this time!

Theatre staff were really good, their professionalism and skill greatly relieved any anxiety I had. I had some back pain after the second stent was inserted but an intravenous shot of Fentolyn sorted that out in seconds.

If they go in through your wrist (it is an artery they use not a vein so there is more blood pressure) you will wear a pressure cuff to stop the wound bleeding whilst it heals. They let the pressure down over the course of several hours to ensure you are healed up before being released,

And remember that it may not be your idea of a day out, but it's a lot better than open heart surgery.

Chin up and good luck.

I had mine April last year one stent .

I was anxious 😟 but the staff so looked after me . Didn’t watch the screen just turned away and watched a lady who was monitoring my pressures ? . I can’t remember if I had a gin and tonic cocktail 🍸?? But just felt a slight pain in my wrist as they were threading catheter into heart 💓. I was blown away as how professional the staff were and they honestly saved my life so grateful to them .

You will be just fine let us know how you get on,

Good luck 😉 x

Had two done in two days and it was fine. All over before I knew it. Like you I was extremely anxious and got as much sedation as possible .

I just had a sore arm ( worse cause they went in twice) which gets better through time. Please don't worry about it- the staff are very reassuring and helpful. I had music playing in the background which was a great distraction.

You'll be absolutely fine .

Take care

I had an angiogram and like you I was extremely nervous but I should not have worried. Two days later I had 4 stents inserted and again it was fairly straightforward despite being on the table for 3 hours as everyone was very solicitous, kind and reassuring. Anxiety is a terrible affliction but if you can learn to treat every nervy thought as a cloud that is merely passing by that will help you. Remember they are only doing this to investigate and ultimately fix whatever issue you have, they are not trying to harm you.

Finally, it is completely normal to feel the way you do right now. To be totally blasé about it would be abnormal. Hope that helps

Had mine through the groin, apart from some bruising never felt a thing, home again by midday , so be brave try not to get to is only aids your anticipation of things .

Be safe keep us all informed.

Had one in Nov 2020. I told the anaesthetist that I would gratefully have all the sedation he could give me and we laughed but I didn't know a thing and I didn't feel a thing. The only 'tell' was the small bruise on my wrist where the canula had been. Definitely not worth getting your knickers in a knot for. Hang loose lady you'll feel more comfortable ;-) A few breathing exercises might help you relax.

By now you are probably ready to be released from recovery - be wiser than I was, take the wheelchair exit instead of foolishly insisting on walking out (the hospital I was at is huge and has been extended so many times most of the locals call it The Labyrinth instead of its proper name).

Please update us when the fog begins to lift:) Hopefully everything has gone well, you're wondering what you were so worried about, and are either home already or being readied to discharge.

080311 in reply to Sunnie2day

Afternoon Sunnie

Jane is home had a message about 2 pm so home really early, she said it was easy, doesn’t know what she was worried about.

Hope your are doing ok and are now over your flare up, or nearly there.

Take good care.


Sunnie2day in reply to 080311

Thank-you for the update, so good to hear she's home and doing well!

As for me, acute flare gone, YIPPEE, and I'm better everyday, thank-you for asking:)

080311 in reply to Sunnie2day

So glad to hear your over your flare up. I got the results of my last kidney function test last week and they have stabilised. Felt like doing a little jig! Can’t imagine what you have to go through, must be so hard.


Sunnie2day in reply to 080311

Honestly the angina was the worst, I couldn't tell if I was about to have a heart attack or not. Now they've worked out the right dosage and regime, I have to be careful not to overdo (being careful to avoid a pericarditis relapse) but other than that, I feel a genuine world beater again

GREAT to hear your kidney function came back so nicely, have they booked your next echo yet?

080311 in reply to Sunnie2day

That must be awful not knowing if it’s a heart attack or not, scary.

No not yet have another blood test in 4 weeks so maybe I will mention my echo when I speak to the GP. when the results of my blood count are in. Though I feel good don’t have any worries with my heart. Blood pressure is good, so will just have to wait I suppose. It will be 2 years in May since my last one. There will be plenty like me waiting for a letter I suppose.

Sunnie2day in reply to 080311

I think we're all in for significant waits for routine monitoring. The queue in our area is quite long for 'routine' echo bookings, I only got one in early December 2020 owing to my cardiologist agreeing with me my pericardial effusion might be on the up (it was). He was in the room (lol, the poor tech looked terrified) and he had the tech do what he called 'a full sweep' so he could check the aortic valve scarring.

After it was over and I was back out in the hall, he came out and told me everything looked good scarring-wise including on my pericardium (both are the reason he wants the routine echo bookings) but of course I'd been correct, there was an increase in the effusion. Furosemide sorted that quickly, I feel blessed to be able to use it to drain off excess fluid there - and bonus, I usually drop a few pounds, lol!

I wouldn't have got that echo without it being urgent in his opinion and I think I may have a long wait for the next one.

080311 in reply to Sunnie2day

That’s really good news about your scaring, and using furosemide sorts your effusion out is great. I have been on furosemide since my surgery, that’s why they watch my kidneys. I get a bit paranoid in case they start tinkering with the dosage. I bought a new set of scales a few months ago it as an app that is on my phone and when I weigh myself it gives me a read out of all sort of things one being water, don’t know how accurate they are but it makes me feel better!!

Sunnie2day in reply to 080311

Wow! Almost makes me want a smart phone, that does - I would love to have a hint at how much is 'water-weight' and how much is too many pies😂

080311 in reply to Sunnie2day

It’s when the app tells me I am older than I am that I want to give it a miss😩 it works out all the percentages and tells health age. That can be a bit worrying 😂

I had one several years ago, no pain, no problems, I was not sedated,was there for 2-4 hours. You will be OK. I was terrified also.

Hi Cath. I had this done and a stent inserted a couple of months ago. I opted for sedation. Never felt a thing, was totally relaxed and the 45 minutes went by as if it were 10. Have no fear at all and good luck.


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