Blood is supplied to your heart muscle by a group of arteries known as coronary arteries. These branch off the aorta, the large artery which carries oxygenated blood out of your heart. A build up of fatty deposits and abnormal cells can develop along the inside walls of the coronary arteries. These deposits partially block the artery, obstructing blood flow. This is known as coronary artery disease or heart disease. This may cause chest tightness or discomfort, known as angina.
A coronary angiogram is an X-ray procedure that outlines the coronary arteries to see if they are narrowed or blocked. A coronary angiogram may also be called a cardiac catheter. The procedure involves inserting a narrow, soft plastic tube called a catheter into an artery in your leg and advancing it along to the main artery in the body (the aorta) and up the aorta to the coronary arteries. The position of the catheter can be seen by the cardiologist on a computer screen. This procedure is performed in the Cardiovascular Theatre using a local anaesthetic and is most commonly done via the leg artery in the right groin. When the catheter is in position a small amount of dye is injected into the coronary artery and this is recorded on X-ray film. Then the catheter is advanced into the heart and a larger injection of dye is given to show how efficiently the heart is pumping and if there are any areas that are not pumping properly.
Your cardiologist will explain the results after reviewing your angiogram and will discuss any follow-up treatment and medications. Depending on the time your angiogram is performed and your cardiologist’s specific instructions, you may be discharged that same day or the following morning.
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