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Angiogram (Cardiac Catheterization)

If you are at high risk of heart disease or your symptoms indicate a heart issue, your doctor may recommend an angiogram or cardiac catheterization, an imaging procedure to detect heart diseases. Using the latest diagnostic equipment, the heart doctor will check how well your blood vessels are supplying blood to the heart and if there is any blockage that needs immediate attention. The top-rated cardiologists at the Century Medical and Dental Center diagnose and treat a wide range of cardiac conditions based on your results and help to prevent life-threatening complications.

An angiogram helps the doctors make an accurate diagnosis and decide the best course of action for a healthy and fully functioning heart.

What Is an Angiogram?

Cardiac Catheterization
Cardiac Catheterization
Also known as a coronary angiogram or cardiac catheterization, it is an invasive imaging procedure during which the heart doctor evaluates the functioning of your heart. With this method, the doctor can identify or confirm the presence of coronary heart disease, valve disease, or disease or the aorta.

This test can also check out the condition of your heart muscles and valves.

Doctors recommend a coronary angiogram in the following conditions:

  • If you have symptoms of coronary artery disease such as chest pain or angina;
  • If you experience pain in the chest, jaw or neck, and arms that cannot be explained by other tests;
  • You begin to experience new or increasing chest pain, also known as unstable angina;
  • If you suffer from a heart defect since birth or congenital heart disease;
  • Your non-invasive heart stress test shows abnormal results;
  • You have some blood vessel problems or chest injury;
  • You suffer from a heart valve problem that requires surgery.

As there is always a risk of complications, angiograms are not done until after the doctor has performed non-invasive heart tests to be sure about your condition. These tests include an electrocardiogram, an echocardiogram, or a stress test.

How an Angiogram Is Performed?

A dye test helps in detecting heart problems in an angiogram. A long, thin, flexible tube, called a catheter, is inserted into the wrist or groin and guided up to your heart. Once in position, a dye is injected, and X-ray pictures are taken. The solution allows the X-rays to capture images of your coronary arteries and highlight the blockage or narrowing inside.

What You Need to Know Before Having a Coronary Angiogram:

Before the coronary angiogram starts, you can look forward to the following steps:

  • A nurse will take your blood pressure and other vital signs;
  • You will be briefed about the procedure;
  • You will have to review and sign the consent form for undergoing the procedure;
  • You will go through the blood tests and an electrocardiogram;
  • You will receive specific instructions about your medications;
  • The smaller area of the groin or your wrist is cleaned to prepare you for the procedure.

During the Procedure

Just before the procedure begins, you will be taken to the cardiac catheterization laboratory. You can expect the following during this time:

  • Despite the medication to help you relax during the procedure, you will be awake so that you can follow the instruction from the doctor and nurses;
  • The doctor will administer freezing to your groin or wrist;
  • A small catheter will be threaded through an artery in your wrist or groin and guided up to the heart;
  • X-rays will be taken, and a special dye is inserted through the catheter to highlight your coronary arteries and check out for narrowed sections or blockages;
  • You can experience a sensation of warmth as the dye flows in or an urge to empty your bladder;
  • The doctor may ask you to take a deep breath and hold it for a few seconds or to cough during the procedure.

The procedure is not very long. It usually takes about 30 to 90 minutes, depending on how everything goes and if there are no complications. If you have any concerns or experience any discomfort, inform the doctor or the nursing staff immediately.

After the procedure

Once the procedure is over, you will be shifted back to the day unit for recovery till you are allowed to go home.

  • The nurse will monitor your pulse, blood pressure, pulses in your feet or wrist, and the puncture site.
  • You will be required to rest for one hour if the catheter was inserted into the wrist, or up to six hours if it was inserted into the groin. You can sleep or rest during this time.
  • If you are not feeling well, experiencing pain or discomfort in any part of the body, inform the nurse.
  • If you feel hungry, you will be given a snack.
  • After the procedure, the doctors encourage you to drink fluids to flush the dye out of the kidneys; ask for assistance if you need to go to the bathroom.
  • You will be discharged from the hospital if you are feeling well and can walk around without assistance.

Once he has them, the doctor will discuss the results of your angiogram with you. He may recommend medications or treatment along with lifestyle and dietary changes to help you live better.

Results of Angiogram

Angiogram results can help your doctor know what is wrong with your blood vessels or the heart. The heart doctor can determine the following:

  • How many of your coronary arteries are blocked or narrowed due to deposits of fatty plaque or atherosclerosis;
  • Find out the exact location of the blockages in the blood vessels;
  • How much blood flow is blocked through the blood vessels;
  • The results of previous coronary bypass surgery;
  • The flow of blood through the heart and blood vessels.

This information can help your doctor determine the extent of damage to your heart and come up with the best treatment depending on your heart condition. Based on the results, the doctor can decide if you require coronary angioplasty or a stent to clear the clogged arteries. In some cases, the doctor may carry out the angioplasty during the angiogram to avoid another procedure.

Instructions You Must Keep In Mind

You should listen carefully to the instructions provided by the doctor or the nurse and make sure to follow them to avoid any complications. If you have been scheduled for cardiac catheterization and have any questions and concerns, do not hesitate to call your doctor.

It is best to make prior arrangements for transportation home on discharge as you are not allowed to drive yourself. Also, make sure there is someone to take care of you at home to avoid unforeseen complications.

How to Prepare for an Angiogram

The doctor will guide you about how an angiogram takes place and how to prepare for it. Angiograms take place in the catheterization (cath) lab of a hospital or health care facility.

Other instructions/general guidelines include:

  • Avoiding anything to eat or drink after midnight before the angiogram;
  • Taking all your medications to the hospital in their original bottles or packs;
  • Asking your doctor about insulin or other treatments to prevent health complications.

In some cases, coronary angiograms are performed on an emergency basis if you have sudden heart pain or an angina attack. Tell your doctor about any other health conditions, allergies, and medications you are taking to ensure optimal results.

An angiogram is an effective means for both finding and fixing heart-related problems. It allows the doctors to determine your heart functions and how well your blood vessels supply blood to your heart. This information helps doctors diagnose heart conditions, plan future treatments and carry out specific procedures to improve your quality of life. The experienced and board-certified heart doctors at the Century Medical and Dental Center use an angiogram to get an idea of what is going inside your heart and come up with the best suggestions to help you enjoy good overall health.

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