A coronary angiogram is a procedure in which X-ray imaging looks inside your heart’s blood vessels. Coronary angiograms are one of several procedures known as cardiac catheterization. Catheterization defines any procedure where a long, thin, flexible plastic tube (catheter) is inserted into one’s body. Heart catheter procedures can assist in diagnosing and treating heart and blood vessel conditions. A coronary angiogram—which may help diagnose heart conditions—is the most common type of heart catheter procedure.
Coronary angiograms are recommended by a doctor if an individual if experiencing any of the following symptoms:
• Symptoms of coronary artery disease, such as chest pain
• Pain in the chest, jaw, neck or arm that can’t be explained by other tests
• New or increasing chest pain
• Congenital heart disease, or a heart defect that’s been with the individual since birth
• Heart failure
• Other blood vessel problems or a chest injury
• A heart valve problem that requires surgery
A doctor may also recommend an angiogram if the individual is having surgery unrelated to the heart, but may be at high risk of having a heart problem during the surgery. There are risks associated with angiograms. Therefore, it is usually done after noninvasive heart tests have been performed, such as an electrocardiogram, an echocardiogram or a stress test.
An angiogram can show doctors what’s wrong with in the blood vessels. It can:
• Show how many coronary arteries are blocked by fatty plaques
• Pinpoint where blockages are located in blood vessels
• Show how much blood flow is blocked through blood vessels
• Check the results of a previous coronary bypass surgery
• Check the blood flow through the heart and blood vessels
Based on the results, one’s doctor can determine what treatment is best for the patient and how much danger the heart condition poses to one’s health. Results of the angiogram should be available the same day the procedure is performed.
If you feel you would benefit from a coronary angiogram, talk to your doctor to determine the best course of action.