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Home » Treatment » Coronary Angiography

Coronary Angiography

Coronary angiography is a procedure that is used to find out if you have a blockage in a coronary artery. If your doctor is concerned that you're at risk of a heart attack due to atypical chest pain, if you have unstable angina, aortic stenosis, or unexplained heart failure, then the doctor may suggest coronary angiography.

During the coronary angiography, a contrast dye usually containing iodine will be injected into your arteries through a catheter (thin, plastic tube). While the doctor will use X-ray pictures to detect blockages in the coronary arteries that are caused by plaque build-up.

This test is also called catheter arteriography, cardiac angiogram, or cardiac catheterization. You should schedule a visit to your doctor if you detect you suffer the following symptoms.

Need For Coronary Angiography

Your doctor may suggest that you have a coronary angiogram if you have:

  • Symptoms of coronary artery disease, such as chest pain (angina) are present.
  • Experiencing pain in your jaw, chest, neck or arm that can't be explained by other tests
  • A heart defect you were born with (congenital heart disease)
  • Blood vessel problems or a chest injury
  • Unfamiliar or increasing chest pain (unstable angina)
  • Uncommon results on a non-invasive heart stress test
  • Surgery for Heart Valve problem

However, there's a minuscule risk of complications. Therefore, angiograms are typically performed after non-invasive heart tests such as an electrocardiogram, an echocardiogram or a stress test.

How to prepare for a coronary angiography

To pinpoint problems with your heart, doctors will use an MRI or a CT scan before a coronary angiography test.

Following guidelines should be adhered to:

  • The doctor will advise you to don't eat or drink anything for eight hours before the angiography. You should arrange for someone to give you a ride home and someone to stay with you for the night because you may feel dizzy or light-headed for the first 24 hours after the cardiac angiography.
  • The healthcare team may ask you to check into the hospital the morning of the test.
  • Ask your doctor if you could take your usual set of medications.
  • Also, let your doctor know about your medical history with any allergic reaction to seafood, or reaction to contrast dye in the past.

During the Procedure

  • You will be executed sedatives to help you relax. You will be conscious throughout the test.
  • The doctor will clean and numb an area of your body in the groin or arm with an anaesthetic. A thin tube called a catheter will be inserted up to an artery in your heart.
  • X-ray cameras will move over and around your head and chest to take pictures from many angles, and your doctor will supervise the whole process on a screen.
  • You may feel a slight burning or "flushing" sensation after the dye is injected.
  • It depends as to what your doctor discovers during your angiogram. And hence, you may have additional catheter procedures at the same time, such as balloon angioplasty or stent placement to open up a narrowed artery.
  • Also, other non-invasive tests, such as ultrasound, will help your doctor evaluate identified blockages.
  • All in all, it takes one hour for an angiogram test, although it may be longer, especially if combined with other cardiac catheterization procedures.

Risks associated with getting a coronary angiography

Cardiac catheterization is generally a very reliable option when performed by an experienced team, but there are risks.

These risks are:

  • Bleeding or bruising
  • blood clots
  • injury to the artery or vein
  • a small risk of stroke
  • Miniscule chance of a heart attack or a need for bypass surgery
  • low blood pressure

Recovery and follow-up when you get home

  • Relax and drink plenty of water. Don't smoke or drink alcohol.
  • You shouldn't drive, operate machinery, or execute any essential decisions immediately because you've received an anaesthetic.
  • Remove the bandage after 24 hours. If there's minor oozing, apply a fresh dressing for another 12 hours.
  • For two days, don't have sex or perform any heavy exercise.
  • Don't take a bath, use a hot tub, or use a pool for at least three days. You may shower.
  • You'll need to see your heart doctor a week after the test.

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