Coronary angiogram

A coronary angiogram is a procedure that uses X-ray imaging to see your heart's blood vessels. Coronary angiograms are part of a general group of procedures known as heart (cardiac) catheterization.

Heart catheterization procedures can both diagnose and treat heart and blood vessel conditions. A coronary angiogram, which can help diagnose heart conditions, is the most common type of heart catheterization procedure.

During a coronary angiogram, a type of dye that's visible by an X-ray machine is injected into the blood vessels of your heart. The X-ray machine rapidly takes a series of images (angiograms), offering a detailed look at the inside of your blood vessels. If necessary, your doctor can perform procedures such as an angioplasty during your coronary angiogram.

Why it's done Risks How you prepare What you can expect Results

Your doctor may recommend that you have a coronary angiogram if you have:

  • Symptoms of coronary artery disease, such as chest pain (angina)
  • Pain in your chest, jaw, neck or arm that can't be explained by other tests
  • New or increasing chest pain (unstable angina)
  • A heart defect you were born with (congenital heart disease)
  • Heart failure
  • Other blood vessel problems or a chest injury
  • A heart valve problem that requires surgery

You may also need an angiogram if you're going to have surgery unrelated to your heart, but you're at high risk of having a heart problem during that surgery.

Because there's a small risk of complications, angiograms are usually done after noninvasive heart tests have been performed, such as an electrocardiogram, an echocardiogram or a stress test.

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