What Is a Coronary Angiography?

It is a procedure that uses X-ray imaging (Cath lab) to see your heart’s blood vessels. This test is done to see if there’s a restriction/blockage in blood flow going to the heart. An angiogram can help your doctor see if you need treatment such as angioplasty or stent, coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG) or medical therapy. Procedures aren’t necessary for all blockages.

Why do I need this test?

Doctor’s recommends coronary angiography if you have:

  • Acute Heart attack
  • Abnormal results on a non-invasive heart stress test
  • New or increasing chest pain (unstable angina)
  • Symptoms of coronary artery disease, such as chest pain (angina)
  • Pain in your chest, jaw, neck or arm that can’t be explained by other tests
  • A heart defect you were born with (congenital heart disease)
  • Other blood vessel problems or a chest injury
  • A heart valve problem that requires surgery

A coronary angiogram is a special test. It’s done to find out if your coronary arteries are blocked or narrowed, where and by how much

What happens during an angiography?

During the angiogram, you’ll be awake in heart catheterization laboratory (“cath lab”)., you may be given medicine to relax you. Doctor numbs a spot on your groin or arm and inserts a thin tube (catheter) into an artery and up to the heart, this will hurt no more than a blood test. Radio opaque dye will be injected in arteries to show up well on the X-ray image. Doctor  takes multiple pictures of the arteries to rule out blockages and see any problems with your coronary arteries.

What might I feel?

Pain no more than a needle prick

Slight pressure as the catheter is put in

Rarely, some chest discomfort & nausea as the fluid goes in, an urge to urinate.

What happens after the test?

  • The catheter will be taken out.
  • A nurse or doctor will apply direct pressure for 15 minutes or longer where the catheter was inserted to make sure there is no internal bleeding.
  • You will go back to your hospital room or Cardiac Care Unit (CCU).
  • Your doctor will talk to you about the results.