What Is Coronary Angiogram?
Coronary angiogram is a procedure examining the blood vessels or chambers of the heart. A tube is inserted either in your groin or arm. When it reaches either the heart or the arteries supplying the heart, a special fluid (called a contrast medium or dye) is injected. This fluid is visible by X-ray. The resulting pictures are called angiograms.
This procedure is also called:
Angiogram is usually done to evaluate the following:
- Coronary Angiography
- Cardiac Catheterization
- Heart Cath
- How well the heart muscle and valves are working
- The extent of damage to the heart after a heart attack
- The presence of narrowed coronary arteries
- The extent and degree of the narrowing
- Required course of treatment:
What Preparation Is Needed?
Please follow these precautions before coming to an angioplasty:
- Do not eat or drink after midnight.
- If you are taking any medications, please consult us about the following:
- How to adjust insulin and food intake prior to the test.
- Whether to take your regular medications the morning of the test.
- If you are taking blood thinners (such as Coumadin), ask us whether you should stop the medication for a pre-determined period before coming to a procedure.
- Leave all valuables at home.
- Plan to be admitted to the hospital overnight.
- Make arrangements to be driven home the following day.
How Coronary Angiogram Is Performed?
Angiogram is not a surgical procedure. If you are going to undergo the procedure, you should be prepared for the following:
- A catheter is inserted through an artery in the thigh or an arm up into the heart.
- You will be given a mild sedative to help you relax.
- You will remain awake during the procedure in order to answer questions regarding you comfort level (you should mention if you feel any chest pain or shortness of breath).
- The catheter is inserted through the femoral artery in the groin (or an artery in the arm at the crease of the elbow).
- X-ray is used to guide the catheter up into the heart.
- A colorless dye is injected through the catheter, and X-ray pictures are taken of the heart and coronary arteries.
- The patient can watch the procedure on the monitor if he wants to.
- The test usually takes about an hour.
While there are some risks involved in any procedure, coronary angiograms are widely used and complications are rare, occurring in less than 3 percent of patients. These potential complications include:
The risk of complications is greater if people are over the age of 70, or have conditions such as diabetes, hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) or kidney failure.
- Bleeding in the area of the catheter insertion
- Abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmia)
- Allergic reaction to the dye
- Damage to the arteries
- Heart attack
- Air embolism (damage caused by air in the bloodstream)
What Happens After The Procedure?
After angioplasty is done, you should observe the following precautions:
Please contact us immediately, if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Avoid bending the leg at the hip for 6-8 hours after the catheter is removed.
- Avoid bending or using the arm for several hours if it was used for the insertion of the catheter.
- Hold the band aid firmly if you need to cough or sneeze.
- Discomfort or sudden pain at the insertion site.
- A warm, moist and sticky feeling or bleeding at the insertion site.
- Any discomfort in:
- upper back
- Shortness of breath
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Cardiac Catheterization and Angiography
This article provides a basic level introduction into a coronary angiogram. It is well structured, organized into practical categories such as purpose, preparation, advantages/disadvantages, etc. The article also contains helpful illustrations.
American Heart Association provides basic information on coronary angiography, its pros and its cons. The article also links to alternative cardiological procedures.