What Is Angiography And When To Have An Angiogram?

Angiography refers to a medical imaging technique used to visualize the lumen of your blood vessels and body organs with a particular focus on the heart chambers, arteries, and veins. 

A coronary angiogram involves a procedure in which doctors use X-ray imaging to check your heart’s blood vessels. The test is used to examine the inhibition of blood flow that is going to the heart. Coronary angiograms are included in general group procedures.

These procedures are known as catheterizations. Cardiac catheterization is used to diagnose the conditions of blood vessels and the heart. A coronary angiogram is a type of cardiac catheterization procedure that helps diagnose the heart’s conditions.

A dye is injected during the coronary angiogram into the heart blood vessels. An X-ray machine is used to examine it. X-ray machines take different images rapidly. 

You can look at the blood vessels easily using this machine. Doctors open the arteries that are clogged in this procedure if it is necessary.

When Should You Have An Angiogram?

Your medical healthcare specialist recommends a coronary angiogram in the following cases.

  • Increase in chest pain
  • Having symptoms of coronary artery disease like chest pain
  • Pain in the areas of neck, chest, jaw, and arm that other tests fail to explain
  • If you born with any heart defect like congenital heart disease
  • Having abnormal results in heart stress that is noninvasive
  • Having a heart valve issue that needs surgery

The risk of complications is small, but angiograms are still not done after specific noninvasive heart tests like echocardiograms, stress tests, and electrocardiograms. 

Risks

Coronary angiograms have some risks. The reason is that most of the procedures doctors do involve your heart and blood vessels. The hazards include radiation exposure after the X-rays. But major complications occur rarely. Following are potential risks.

  • Stroke
  • Infection
  • Heart attack
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Injury or damage to the catheterized artery
  • Regular rhythms of the heart
  • Kidney damage
  • Allergic reactions to medications or dye that are used during the procedure

Doctors perform coronary angiograms in emergency cases sometimes. But commonly, they schedule such tests in advance. Doctors give you proper time to prepare yourself for the test. These tests are performed in the hospital’s catheterization lab.

Your health care team provides you with complete guidelines about the medications you have to take during the procedure. They recommend you not drink or eat anything after midnight if you have an angiogram the next day. 

Take your medications to the hospital in their original coverings or bottles. Ask your doctor if you are allowed to take morning medications. If you are a patient of diabetes, ask the doctor to take insulin or certain other oral medicines before you have an angiogram.

Before Procedure

Your healthcare team thoroughly reviews your medical history, including medications you use and allergies you have before the start of the angiogram procedure. They perform a physical exam and examine your pulse rate and blood pressure.

They advise you to empty your bladder and change into the gown provided by the hospital. You may also have to remove hairpins, contact lenses, jewelry, and eyeglasses.

During Procedure

You have to lie on your back on a specific X-ray table. The table may be tiled after the start of the procedure. The health care team may fasten safety straps across the area of your legs and chest. X-ray cameras move over and around the locations of your chest and heart to take pictures from different angles.

Doctors insert an IV line into the vein of your arm. They give you a sedative to keep you relaxed. You will feel sleepy but able to follow the given instructions. Electrodes on the chest are used to monitor the heart during the procedure.

After Procedure

Doctors remove the catheter from your groin or arm after the procedure. You will be taken to the area of recovery for monitoring and further observation. After this, if you feel stable, you can return to your room for regular monitoring.

If you want to flush the dye from the body, drink many fluids. It is recommended to stay in the hospital for one night. Your health care team will provide you guidelines about resuming the medications, working, bathing, and doing everyday activities.

Don’t try strenuous activities. Avoid heavy lifting for many days. You may feel bruises on the puncture site. Tell your doctor if you are facing issues after angiography.

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