What is angiography?
A coronary angiogram (angiography) is a type of imaging procedure which uses iodine dye and x-ray pictures to detect blockages in the coronary arteries. Blockages due to plaque build-up can starve the heart of blood, leading to angina and heart attack.
Why do I need a coronary angiography?
If you have suffered from chest pain, cardiac arrest, or delivered abnormal results from your electrocardiogram (EKG), then your doctors and cardiologists may use a coronary angiography to diagnose ischemic heart disease.
Ischemic heart disease is a condition in which the heart is starved of oxygen due to a reduced supply of blood, usually caused by blockages in the arteries. These blockages need to be attended to as they may cause chest pain and lead to a heart attack.
If the team detects a blockage, they may insert a stent in the affected artery (angioplasty).
You might need an angiography if you have:
- Symptoms of coronary disease
- A heart valve problem
- Problems with your blood vessels
- Congenital heart disease
- A chest injury
- An unexplained pain in your chest, jaw, neck or arm
Angiograms like any procedure are associated with very small risk, and your cardiologist may elect to start investigations with less invasive testing, such as an electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, or a stress test.
What can I expect from the angiography?
You will be positioned lying on a special table that provides access to the top and the sides of the chest and head area. You will be given a very light sedative to help you relax, and to assist the medical team with the procedure.
The interventional cardiologist injects contrast (dye) which makes your blood vessels more visible. X-rays are then taken to assess blood flow and inspect for blockages.
The test will take 2—45 minutes based on complexity and the need for any stent insertion which can be performed at the same time.
Following the angiography, you will may have minor bruising or tenderness at the access site.
Avoiding strenuous exercise or heavy lifting for 2-3 days is advised. Different recovery times and recommendations may apply if a stent is inserted at the same time as your angiography – Prof Dion Stub will provide individualised advice if this is the case.