Angiogram / Cardiac Catheterization
An angiogram, or “cardiac catheterization,” is a test performed to detect certain heart problems. It involves the placement of a thin, very flexible tube (also called a catheter) which is inserted into the wrist or groin and then guided by X-ray images to your heart. Once the catheter is in the correct position, X-ray images are taken.
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Before the procedure, you will be injected with a medical dye that allows for greater contrast and accuracy. It can highlight blockages in the arteries or areas that have become narrowed due to the buildup of plaque. This test can also evaluate the condition of the heart valves and muscles.
After Your Angiogram Test
Once the test is completed, you will need to rest. If the catheter was placed through your wrist, you will need to rest for about one hour. If it was inserted through the groin, you will need to rest for six hours before returning home. You will be given fluids to drink to assist in flushing the contrast dye out of your system. Before you are free to go home, you will need to walk around to ensure you feel back to normal.
Why Do You Need an Angiogram?
Your doctor may have ordered an angiogram to detect narrowing of the arteries and to what degree the narrowing has occurred. The test can help your heart doctor determine if you need a change in medication or if a surgical procedure is indicated, such as coronary artery bypass surgery or an angioplasty.
Coronary Artery Disease: Diagnosis and Treatment
Coronary artery disease is a condition in which plaque builds up within the coronary arteries. These are the critical arteries that are wrapped around the heart and supply it with the blood and oxygen it needs to function correctly. When the plaque builds up within the coronary arteries, it limits the blood flow to the heart. Should the plaque break off, it can create a blood clot that travels to the heart.
If you are suffering any of the following symptoms, you may need to undergo an angiogram:
- Angina (chest pain)
- A sensation of pressure or squeezing in your heart
- Shortness of breath
- Discomfort in shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back
- A sensation similar to indigestion
If narrowing of your coronary arteries is detected, treatment is necessary, as this condition puts you at higher risk of a heart attack. Treatments to remedy the condition include an angioplasty or coronary bypass surgery, along with medication.