What Is an Angiogram?

An angiogram, also known as cardiac catheterization, is one of the most useful tools for diagnosing coronary artery disease, the most common form of heart disease and the No. 1 killer of men and women in the U.S. An angiogram involves passing a catheter under X-ray guidance to the heart and injecting X-ray dye into the coronary arteries so that your doctor may visualize any blockages in the heart arteries.

Benefits of an Angiogram

Coronary arteries, which supply your heart muscle with oxygen-rich blood, can become clogged from a buildup of fatty deposits, or plaque. When blood supply is completely blocked, a heart attack occurs. An angiogram can help your doctor determine if your coronary arteries are blocked or narrowed, where and by how much. The test can also help your doctor determine if you need treatment, which might include medication, lifestyle modification or procedures, such as angioplasty, stenting or coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG).

What To Expect

During the procedure, the doctor numbs a spot on your leg or arm and inserts a thin catheter into an artery. The doctor then guides the catheter to the heart with the help of a special X-ray machine. Dye is injected through the catheter, and X-ray pictures are taken of the heart arteries. You will be awake during the procedure and might feel slight pressure as the catheter is inserted.

Following the test, the catheter is removed and you will be asked to remain on bed rest for a few hours.

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