A coronary angiography is a test to find out if you have a blockage in a coronary artery. Your doctor will be concerned that you’re at risk of a heart attack if you have unstable angina, atypical chest pain, aortic stenosis, or unexplained heart failure.
During the coronary angiography, a contrast dye will be injected into your arteries through a catheter (thin, plastic tube), while your doctor watches how blood flows through your heart on an X-ray screen.
This test is also known as a cardiac angiogram, catheter arteriography, or cardiac catheterization.
Risks associated with getting a coronary angiography
Cardiac catheterization is very safe when performed by an experienced team, but there are risks.
Risks can include:
- bleeding or bruising
- blood clots
- injury to the artery or vein
- a small risk of stroke
- a very small chance of a heart attack or a need for bypass surgery
- low blood pressure
Preparing for a coronary angiography
Doctors often use an MRI or a CT scan before a coronary angiography test, in an effort to pinpoint problems with your heart.
Don’t eat or drink anything for eight hours before the angiography. Arrange for someone to give you a ride home. You should also have someone stay with you the night after your test because you may feel dizzy or light-headed for the first 24 hours after the cardiac angiography.
In many cases, you’ll be asked to check into the hospital the morning of the test, and you’ll be able to check out later the same day.
At the hospital, you’ll be asked to wear a hospital gown and to sign consent forms. The nurses will take your blood pressure, start an intravenous line and, if you have diabetes, check your blood sugar. You may also have to undergo a blood test and an electrocardiogram.