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    I had a cardiac catheterization 3 days ago...
    LotaHossain posted:
    On Dec. 2, 2011, I experienced some severe left-sided chest pains, shortness of breath, dizziness, upper back pain on the left side, pain radiating down my left jaw and neck to my left shoulder, a heavy, squeezing pain in my chest and numbness in my left arm accompanied by an overwhelming feeling of dread.

    Naturally, I thought I was having a heart attack, given the symptoms I was experiencing and my husband rushed me to the ER. I was taken inside within a matter of minutes where they performed an EKG. The results showed a rapid, irregular heartbeat. I was taken to triad where a series of blood tests and UAs were performed, to check for cardiac enzymes and pregnancy. Both came back negative and while the Dr. there felt I had not had a heart attack, he had me admitted to the Atrium (cardiac unit of hospital) to stay overnight for observations and additional testing due to family history and my arrhythmia.

    I ended up staying at the hospital for 6 days and had a whole slew of tests performed on me including additional blood tests and urinalysis and a fecal culture test, a chest CT scan, chest x-ray, a stress test and lastly, cardiac catheterization. My temperature, respiration, pulse, blood pressure and oxygen levels were frequently monitored. During my stay, I was put on a low sodium, low-fat, low-cholesterol bland diet and was administered 4 blood thinner/anti-coagulant shots (1 daily), protonix daily, and aspirin daily.

    I don't know what what the results of the additional blood, UA and fecal tests were nor do I know why they were even administered but the results of the other tests were: no broken ribs nor torn or damaged costal ligaments or cartilages in the x-ray; the chest CT scan revealed that I still have my thymus gland and it is still fairly large (I am 27) but no clots or bleeds within my thoracic cavities; and I tested positive in my stress test.

    2 days after my stress test, I was inside the OR having a cardiac catheterization done. They performed it through my right wrist. They attached me to monitors, an IV and draped my body with covers except my right arm and strapped me down to the table. They put me on an oxygen-benedryl gas via a nasal breathing tube. I started to feel drowsy and they told me to close my eyes and rest. I was relieved thinking that I'd be sleeping while the procedure was performed but then every time I fell I'd startle awake very easily again by the slightest things: a nurse walking by, someone talking, the nurse sitting at a monitoring station to the left in my peripheral vision, the nurse checking in on my monitors, the steady beep of the monitors...

    Then I heard the Surgeon coming in heard snippets of conversation between him and the nurses. It went something to the effect of: "She woke up..", "increase the dose", "how much did you give her", "I hit her with a ?? dose, twice", "she's maxed out".

    I felt a twinge of panic creep up on me when I heard the surgeon come to my side. I turned my head towards him and said "I'm still awake. Am I supposed to be awake?" He told me that it happens sometimes and to try to remain calm and stay still. I felt them rub iodine on my inner thigh and groin area and on my right wrist and forearm. The surgeon told me to take a deep breath and I was going to feel a pinch, I turned my head back towards the ceiling and squeezed my eyes shut because I hate needles.(I want to include more details in my following comments below.)

    Take the Poll

    If you had a cardiac catheterization (coronary/cardiac angiogram), what was your level of pain management?
    • I felt nothing, I was unconscious
    • I was very drowsy and was only vaguely aware of everything
    • I was a little drowsy and/or only felt a little pressure
    • I slipped in and out of consiousness
    • I was completely awake and alert and/or it was painful
    View Poll Results
    LotaHossain responded:
    By the time the procedure was about to begin, I was fully awake, alert and aware of my surroundings.

    He injected my forearm with a local aesthetic and within a few minutes my hand and most of my forearm was completely numb. The numbing effects only spread to approx. 2 inches below my inner elbow. I was told that I would feel some pressure but honestly some parts really hurt. I felt pressure in my forearm, I felt PAIN in my inner elbow, pressure in my upper arm, I felt PAIN in my shoulder, I felt it move through my upper chest without that pressure feeling and I felt PAIN when it entered the left portion of my chest.It felt as if he was sticking several things into my arm and constantly readjusting everything. I tried to remain calm and still but everything he hit a sensitive spot, I would cry out or moan.

    When he touched my heart with whatever device he inserted in my veins, I heard the monitor beat very fast. I felt pain and my heart felt like a fish out of water flopping around on the ground inside my chest. That part scared me very much and I cried out. The surgeon assured me that everything was okay and then we were done. I felt him retract all the devices and felt a short steady pooling of blood wet my arm before they applied firm pressure and then some sort of clear plastic ternacit (sp?) type device on my wrist and my hand went numb again. They unstrapped me and told me to remain still and then pulled me from the table to the gurney. On the way back to my room, they told me to not bend my wrist. Every few hours, someone would come into my room and let a little air out of the device and it would loosen up a bit. Once they had to put air back into the device because my wrist began to bleed again, but by the next day, the bleeding had stopped altogether and the device was remove and replaced by a band-aid.

    They tried to run additional blood test but no one was able to retrieve any blood from me. After several attempts, all veins within either of my arms were unusable and they then tried a vein in my ankle but were only able to retrieve a tiny amount and stopped trying after that.

    The next day, the cardiologist came and told me that I have vein from my heart that comes off at a weird place and is oddly shaped but other than that, the results were normal. He gave me his card and told me to schedule an appointment at his clinic after I healed to run some more tests and keep an eye on the vein.A cardiovascular/thoracic surgeon also visited me and gave me his card and told me to follow up with him in 2-3 months to check on my thymus and told me that I may have to have surgery to have it removed. Of the blood tests I was told that there was no cardiac enzymes and my cholesterol was very low. Throughout my stay I had very low blood pressure with the exception of the stress test. Two evenings after my procedure, I was discharged and was given post-catheterization discharge paper with somewhat detailed instructions but very vague details of what to expect, possible side/after-effects, recovery period and the like. I received NO papers whatsoever on the results of ANY of my tests.

    Since I have been home for the past 2 days, I have tried to take it easy, but being right-handed (where they decided to insert the catheters) and being mommy of a very active 5-year old boy, it has been difficult to do, but I AM taking it easier than before I was hospitalized.

    I have been following the instructions and the papers state that there usually is no pain after 24 hours, but I am in so much pain. At the hospital, they gave me Oxycontin because the pain in my arm had me crying tears and writhing in agony. Although the pain isn't as severe since coming home, over-the-counter pain relievers merely dull the pain but do not make it go away. I count the minutes until it is time for me to take another pill because of the pain. (Will continue...)
    LotaHossain replied to LotaHossain's response:
    My right arm (and shoulder) not only is sore and painful, but also the muscles feel tight at all times, there is redness and heat and a little (not severe) swelling . There is are also green bruising just barely appearing today on either side of the injection site and spreading about 3.5 inches down the middle of my forearm. My clavicles are sore and my breasts and nipples (especially the left one) are very sore and tender. I'm experiencing intermittent, random episodes of shortness of breath and brief left-sided chest pains under my breast and 1-2 inches left of my sternum and occasional short, less frantic periods of that whole flopping fish feeling in my heart.
    I am also experiencing difficulty sleeping and random throbbing in my right arm.

    So, after this very long, very detailed description of my experience, I am just asking:
    1. Was what I experienced DURING the procedure normal?
    2. What does me still having my thymus have to do with my heart?
    3. Are the symptoms I am now experiencing common/normal after-effects of the cardiac catheterization procedure- if so, how long will they last- and if not, should I go back to the hospital or call the physician that I am supposed to follow up with in 1-2 weeks?

    Thank you to anyone who actually has the patience to read and respond to my posts.
    cdp2011 replied to LotaHossain's response:
    I think you should call your doctor or go back to the ER with some of the things you described sounds like you need to have that checked out again?!! I had the same thing but it was only through my right leg. Although, i still have tightness of chest and shortness of breath and the flip/flop feeling in my chest which i am told is harmless as long as my heart rate/pulse is normal. I was awake/drowsy and could see the moniter and hear the Dr. talking but could not make out what he was saying. I started cardiac rehab and i still can't lift heavy things without my chest hurting and this all was done on 11/4. Please let me know how you are doing!!!
    An_263100 responded:
    I had a heart cath. done about two weeks ago through my right wrist, I was completely awake through the procedure. My results were negative. I have twice experienced pain and numbness/tingling sensation in my right arm while falling asleep is this normal? Any thoughts or comments are welcome. THANK YOU!
    cardiostarusa1 replied to An_263100's response:

    "My results were negative"


    "I have twice experienced pain and numbness/tingling sensation in my right arm while falling asleep is this normal?"

    Please consult with your doctor(s) on this, especially since everyone is unique with each and every health/medical case/situation being different, whether it was done via the femoral approach (through the groin) or transradial (through the wrist)

    Best of luck down the road of life.

    Take care,


    WebMD member (since 8/99)




    "Be a questioning patient. TALK to your DOCTOR and ASK QUESTIONS. Studies show that patients who ask the most questions, and are most assertive, get the best results. Be vigilant and speak up!"

    - Charles Inlander, People's Medical Society


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