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.
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.
Your Cardiac Catheterization Procedure: What to Expect
Before your test, your blood pressure and other vital signs will be checked. At San Diego Cardiac Center, we ensure our patients fully understand the test, its purpose, and what will occur, and we are always open to any questions or concerns. You will have blood tests and an EKG test before your procedure, and you may be required to stop taking some medications or supplements before undergoing the test.
The area through which the catheter will be inserted, whether your groin or wrist, will be thoroughly cleaned and numbed with local anesthesia. Intravenous sedation is administered so you are not anxious and can relax during the test. After the catheter is inserted and guided to the heart, X-rays are taken, and then dye is injected to highlight the structure of your arteries and reveal any blockages or narrowed areas. You may be asked to take a deep breath and hold it or to cough. You may experience a slight degree of discomfort, and if so, speak up. The test requires about 30 to 90 minutes to complete.
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.
A Tradition of Trust and Groundbreaking Procedures: San Diego Cardiac Center
Our specialists at San Diego Cardiac Center offer the highest level of expertise, and we offer a full spectrum of advanced cardiac care, as well as diagnostic tests such as an angiogram. We are very progressive in adopting new therapies as a result of our clinical research experience, and we often gain access to newer, more successful procedures and therapies before it is in use in any other clinic in the region. We treat all aspects of cardiac disease and have multiple doctors with subspecialties who provide quality care, and we adopt innovative, less invasive therapies to benefit our patients. We are equipped with cutting-edge technology and offer newer, less invasive procedures that can provide superior outcomes and a faster recovery.