Coronary Angiogram: About This Test

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What is a coronary angiogram?

Cardiac catheterization

A coronary angiogram is a test to look at the large blood vessels of your heart (coronary arteries). These blood vessels feed blood, oxygen, and nutrients to your heart.

Why is this test done?

This test is done to check blood flow in your coronary arteries. It can show the size and location of narrowed or blocked sections of an artery.

It's done for people who have coronary artery disease, also known as heart disease. The test can show how serious the disease is and how best to treat it. Or it can be done for people who have symptoms of heart disease to find out if there is a problem with the artery.

What happens during the test?

  • You will get medicine to help you relax.
  • A thin tube called a catheter is put into a blood vessel in your groin or arm.
  • You will get a shot to numb the skin where the catheter goes in. You may feel pressure when the doctor moves the catheter through your blood vessel into your heart.
  • Dye is put into your coronary arteries through the catheter. Your doctor can see the dye as it moves through the arteries. This lets your doctor look for areas that are narrowed or blocked.
  • You may feel hot or flushed for several seconds when the dye is put in.

How long does it take?

  • The test will take about 30 minutes. But you need time to get ready for it and time to recover. If a problem is found and the doctor treats it, it can take a few hours longer.

What happens after the test?

  • You will stay in a room for at least a few hours to make sure the catheter site starts to heal. You may have a bandage or a compression device on your groin or arm to prevent bleeding.
  • If the catheter was placed in your groin, you may lie in bed for a few hours. If the catheter was put in your arm, you will need to keep your arm still for at least one hour.
  • You may or may not need to stay in the hospital overnight. You will get more instructions for what to do at home.
  • Drink plenty of fluids for several hours after the test.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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