Coronary angiography is a procedure that uses a special dye (contrast material) and X-rays to see how blood flows through the arteries in your heart. Cardiac angiography is also known as Heart Angiography or Coronary Angiogram.
Coronary angiography is performed if you have, or are suspected to have, coronary heart disease. Your doctor may recommend that you have the test if:
- You have chest pain that your doctor suspects is caused by narrowed coronary arteries, but he or she wants to be sure
- Your doctor wants to assess the degree of narrowing in your coronary arteries to see if you could benefit from a procedure such as angioplasty or bypass surgery, to relieve your symptoms and reduce your risk of further heart problems
- You have had a heart attack—if you had treatment to dissolve the clot blocking your coronary artery, or you have continuing chest pain, or the results of an exercise test indicate the need for further investigation, your doctor will need detailed information about your heart and arteries.
- Before surgery of valvular lesions
It means that there is normal supply of blood to the heart and there are no blockages.
An abnormal result may mean you have a blocked artery. The test can show how many coronary arteries are blocked, where they are blocked, and the severity of the blockages.
Cardiac catheterisation carries a slightly increased risk when compared with other heart tests. However, the test is very safe when performed by an experienced team.
Generally the risk of serious complications ranges from 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 500. Risks of the procedure include the following:
- Irregular heart beats
- Injury to a heart artery
- Low blood pressure
- Allergic reaction to contrast dye
- Heart attack
Considerations associated with any type of catheterisation include the following:
- There is always a very small risk that the soft plastic catheters could actually damage the blood vessels.
- The contrast dye could damage the kidneys (particularly in patients with diabetes).
If a blockage is found, your healthcare provider may perform a Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI) to open the blockage. This can be done during the same procedure, but may be delayed for various reasons. If there are multiple blockages then your cardiologist will refer you to a Surgeon.