A coronary angiogram is a procedure performed with the guidance of x-ray, to determine if your heart's arteries and valves are narrowed or blocked.
The angiogram is performed in a cardiac catheter laboratory by a cardiologist, specialised nurses and technicians. It takes about 30 to 40 minutes. Patients need to be awake during the procedure, so they can follow the doctor's instructions.
This procedure may also be done in an emergency, such as during an episode of angina or a heart attack.
- You will be asked not to drink or eat for some hours beforehand.
- The nurse will place a drip in your arm to administer fluid.
- You may be given a sedative to help you relax.
- To relieve any discomfort when the catheter sheath is inserted, you will receive a local anaesthetic in the area (groin or arm).
- Once the catheter is in place, a small amount of x-ray dye is injected through it into the arteries, and x-ray pictures are taken with a camera. You may be asked at this point to hold your breath.
- When the doctor is examining the ‘pumping chamber' of your heart, you may experience a warm sensation in the upper chest, spreading over the body. This shouldn't last more than about 10–15 seconds.
After the angiogram
The catheter is removed and pressure is applied to the area where it was inserted.
When you return to the ward you will have to lie flat for four hours. This is important as it prevents unnecessary bleeding from the puncture area.
The nursing staff will routinely check your blood pressure, pulse and groin/arm area. You can expect to return home that afternoon or the next morning.
This information was first published in You and Your Heart - an education booklet for patients, families and friends. © 2006 Northern Sydney Central Coast Area Health Service