Is a Coronary Angiography?
A coronary angiography is a test to find out if you have a
blockage in a coronary artery. Your doctor will be concerned that you are at
risk of a heart attack if you have unstable angina, atypical chest pain, aortic stenosis, or
unexplained heart failure.
During the coronary angiography, a contrast dye will be injected
into your arteries through a catheter (thin, plastic tube), while your doctor
watches how blood flows through your heart on an X-ray screen.
This test is also known as a cardiac angiogram, catheter
arteriography, or cardiac
for a Coronary Angiography
Your doctor will often use an MRI or a CT scan before a coronary
angiography test, in an effort to pinpoint problems with your heart.
Don’t eat or drink anything for eight hours before the
angiography. Arrange for someone to give you a ride home. You should also have
someone stay with you the night after your test because you may feel dizzy or
light-headed for the first 24 hours after the cardiac angiography.
In many cases, you’ll be asked to check into the hospital the
morning of the test, and you’ll be able to check out later the same day.
At the hospital, you’ll be asked to wear a hospital gown and to
sign consent forms. The nurses will take your blood pressure, start an intravenous
line and, if you have
diabetes, check your blood sugar. You may also have to undergo a blood test
and an electrocardiogram.
Let your doctor know if you’re allergic to seafood, if you’ve had
a bad reaction to contrast dye in the past, if you’re taking sildenafil
(Viagra), or if you might be pregnant.
Happens During the Test
Before the test, you’ll be given a mild sedative to help you
relax. You’ll be awake throughout the test.
Your doctor will clean and numb an area of your body in the groin
or arm with an anesthetic. You may feel a dull pressure as a sheath opens an
artery for a thin tube called a catheter. The catheter will gently be guided up
to an artery in your heart. Your doctor will supervise the whole process on a
It’s unlikely that you’ll feel the tube move through your blood
the Test Will Feel
A slight burning or “flushing” sensation can be felt after the
dye is injected.
After the test, pressure will be applied at the site where the
catheter is removed to prevent bleeding. If the catheter is placed in your
groin, you may be asked to lie flat on your back for a few hours after the test
to prevent bleeding. This can cause mild back discomfort.
Drink plenty of water after the test to help your kidneys flush
out the contrast dye.
the Results of a Coronary Angiography
A desired result is that there is a normal supply of blood to
your heart and no blockages. An abnormal result may mean that you have one or
more blocked arteries. If you have a blocked artery, your doctor may choose to
do an angioplasty and possibly insert an intracoronary stent to immediately
improve blood flow.
Associated with Getting a Coronary Angiography
Cardiac catheterization is very safe when performed by an
experienced team, but there are risks.
Risks can include:
- bleeding or bruising
- blood clots
- injury to the artery or vein
- a small risk of stroke
- a very small chance of a heart attack or a need
for bypass surgery
- low blood pressure
It was previously thought that a cardiac angiography could injure
a kidney, but research published in the European Heart Journal early
in 2012 showed that this was a rare complication.
and Follow-up When You Get Home
Relax and drink plenty of water. Don’t smoke or drink alcohol.
Remember you’ve had an anesthetic so don’t drive, operate machinery, or make
any important decisions.
Remove the bandage after 24 hours. If there’s minor oozing, apply
a fresh bandage for another 12 hours.
For two days, do not 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. Don’t apply lotion near the puncture site for three
days. You’ll need to see your heart doctor a week after the test.