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A catheter is passed into the right side of your heart and through your pulmonary artery. This artery carries blood into your lungs.

In a right heart catheter procedure, a catheter is passed into a vein in your neck or groin to measure the pressure in your heart and lungs. The procedure helps your doctor to work out how well your heart is working.

No fasting is required and you should take your medications as normal unless instructed otherwise by your doctor.

If you take warfarin, you will need a recent INR level (taken within 24 hours) when you come to your appointment.

Just before your right heart catheter, you’ll be asked to wear a hospital gown and remove all jewellery.

Your right heart catheter procedure takes place in a procedure room in the hospital. You will be taken to the procedure room on a trolley or wheelchair and asked to lie on a narrow table. 

You will be awake throughout the procedure, and before it begins your doctor may offer you sedation to help you relax. Make sure you let your doctor or nurse know if you experience any back or breathing problems.

  • Connect you to a heart monitor to record your heart rate, blood pressure and blood oxygen levels
  • Place sterile sheets on your chest and neck (or groin area)
  • Clean the skin over the neck or groin
  • Give you local anaesthetic to numb the area (this may sting a little when it is given)
  • Gently pass a catheter into a vein to the heart - you may feel some pressure when the catheter is put in
  • Record pressure readings from the heart chambers and lungs
  • Give you medication, depending on your heart’s pressure readings
  • Remove the catheter and apply pressure where it was inserted 

The procedure usually takes less than an hour.

Following your procedure, you will be attached to a cardiac monitor and transferred to the Cardiology ward on the 4th floor called Redwood for overnight monitoring. 

You’ll be allowed to sit up comfortably if your neck vein was used in the procedure

Your doctor will briefly explain your results of the right heart catheter and recommend the best treatment for you

You will be able to eat and drink normally after the procedure and asked to apply light pressure to the site if you need to sneeze, cough, laugh or bend over to prevent bleeding. 

On the next morning, you will be seen by your cardiologist and discharged home.