What is Coronary Angiography?

Coronary Angiography is a procedure to identify the location and severity of the blockages in the oronary arteries. Coronary arteries supply blood to the heart, which helps in maintaining the normal functioning of the cardiac tissue. The buildup of cholesterol plaque or blood dot in the arteries results in clogging of the blood vessels, which may lead to a heart attack.

The doctor may recommend a Coronary Angiography if you have Unstable Angina, Aortic Stenosis, unexplained Heart Failure or atypical chest pain. Coronary Angiography helps restore normal blood circulation to the heart muscles.

1

How is Coronary Angiography performed?

  • Coronary Angiography is performed by first making an incision in the wrist or the groin region, in order to insert a catheter into the common femoral artery or the radial artery.
  • The Cardiologist then passes the catheter through the artery that is directed to the heart. The catheter is directed through the X-ray images captured on the monitor.
  • A contrast dye is subsequently injected into the bloodstream, to highlight the blockages in the blood flow, and these are observed on the X-ray monitor.

 

Before the procedure

  • It is advised to remain on an empty stomach for at least 8 hours before the procedure. Being admitted into the hospital a night before the procedure, or early on the morning of the procedure, helps the medical team to prepare accordingly.
  • You are required to sign the Informed Consent Form.
  • Inform your doctor about your medical history and the medications used, such as anti-diabetic drugs or antiplatelet drugs.
  • Inform your doctor if you are allergic to iodine or any contrast dye.
  • Inform your doctor if you are pregnant.

 

2

After the procedure

  • The catheter is removed and the incision is closed with a manual clamp. You will be moved into a recovery room for a couple of hours.
  • You will be required to lie flat for several hours to avoid bleeding from the incision site, if the catheter was inserted through the groin.
  • Consume plenty of fluids (water or juices) to help flush out the contrast dye from the body.
  • Seek advice from the medical team about the usage of medications, resuming exercise and other normal activities.
  • Avoid lifting heavy weights or performing strenuous activities for a couple of days after the procedure, to prevent exertion and bleeding from the site of the incision.

 

Result interpretation

A normal blood flow in the arteries indicates that your heart has no blockages. An abnormal result on the other hand, indicates the presence of clot or clogging in one or more blood vessels. The doctor may opt for an Angioplasty during an Angiography, to insert an Intracoronary Stent to help improve blood flow to the heart.

 

Warning signs that need immediate medical attention

  • Bleeding, swelling or infection at the site of catheter insertion
  • Pain and discomfort at the site of catheter insertion
  • Change in the color or temperature of the operated area (arm or leg)
  • Weakness or dizziness
  • Chest pain or shortness of breath

3