A coronary angiogram, also known as coronary angiography, is a special x-ray of your heart’s arteries to see if they are narrowed or blocked. The test involves putting a long thin tube into an artery in your groin or wrist. The tube is moved up the artery until it reaches the heart. A special dye is injected into the arteries of the heart so that x-rays may be taken. The x-rays provide detailed information about the state of your heart and whether your coronary arteries have become narrowed or blocked.
You may have had chest pain or a heart attack caused by narrowed coronary arteries. The degree of narrowing in your coronary arteries must be assessed to see if you could benefit from a procedure, such as angioplasty or bypass surgery to relieve your symptoms.
As with many medical tests, there are some risks but serious problems are rare. Most people have no trouble, and the benefits usually far outweigh the risks. You and your doctor will discuss any possible problems that could occur.
Procedural risks are summarised below:
In total, 1.7% of patients may be expected to experience one of the aforementioned complications, whereas 98.3% of patients will have no complications from the procedure. It is important to understand these are average risk rates based on a large series of 60,000 patients. Your individual risk may be higher or lower depending on your age, sex, presence of diabetes, state of your heart muscle, baseline kidney function and nature of your presentation - specifically whether your symptoms are of an unstable nature or not. These issues can be discussed with your cardiologist who is well aware of the risks involved and would have taken them into account before recommending study.
You will be moved to the ward or recovery area to rest in bed for at least 4 hours. If a seal is used in your groin, you will only need to rest in bed for 2 hours. After remaining flat for the first hour, the head of your bed can be raised to 30 degrees. You must keep your arm or leg straight until the nurses tell you otherwise, as any movement could cause the area to bleed.
In most circumstances, you will be discharged after 4-6 hours. Some people need to stay longer for further monitoring. You will need to increase your oral fluid intake after the procedure as the x-ray dye passes through your kidneys.
Your blood pressure and pulse will be taken frequently after the procedure. The nurses will be checking the puncture site in your groin or wrist to monitor for any bleeding or swelling. They will also be checking that the circulation in the same leg or arm is normal. You should not have any pain. It is important to tell the nurses if you do.
Your doctor will visit you and explain the results of the test. Depending on the amount of disease in the artery, treatment may involve medication, coronary angioplasty or bypass graft surgery. Your doctor will discuss the options with you.
You will need someone to take you home after the procedure. Due to the medication given during the procedure, you will not be allowed to drive or use heavy machinery for 24 hours following your angiogram.
Once home, make sure you relax and take it easy. Do not undertake any strenuous tasks. The puncture site may ooze a little, which is normal. If the site starts to bleed or begins to swell, you should apply firm pressure with a clean pad, maintain the pressure for 10-15 minutes and contact your doctor. If the site is still bleeding, you will need to call for an ambulance.
If you have further questions regarding this procedure, please ask your nurse or doctor for clarification.
Providing invasive & non-invasive cardiovascular services to patients in Far North Queensland, PNG, and the Torres Strait Islands