Cardiac Angiography

What is cardiac angiography?

Also called cardiac catheterization or heart cath, this test uses dye and a special x-ray to show the inside of your coronary arteries. It is used to look for narrowing, blockage or damage in the arteries, and may be performed after heart attack or chest pain (angina) or a positive stress test.

What can I expect?

You will be given a mild sedative to help you relax. An area of your body, usually the arm or groin, is cleaned and numbed with a local numbing medicine (anesthetic). The cardiologist passes a thin hollow tube, or catheter, through an artery and carefully moves it up into the heart. A special dye called contrast media is then injected into the coronary arteries, and x-rays are taken to see how the dye flows through your heart. The test may last 30 to 60 minutes, but the entire procedure including pre- and post-op care can take 4 to 12 hours.


How will it feel?

You may have some discomfort from the needle stick, and you may feel a warm flush in your face or elsewhere. You will be asked to lie flat on your back for a few hours after the test to avoid bleeding.

How should I prepare?

  • Do not eat or drink anything for 6 hours before the test.
  • Take your usual medications unless your doctor says not to.  Talk to your doctor if you take any blood thinners that would affect bleeding (Coumadin/Warfarin or Pradaxa).
  • Be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home afterwards.

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