Angiogram of Heart (Coronary Angiogram)

Angiogram is used to diagnose coronary heart disease and coronary microvascular disease after chest pain, sudden cardiac arrest, or abnormal results from tests such as an electrocardiogram of the heart or an exercise stress test. It uses contrast dye usually containing iodine and x- ray pictures to detect blockages in the coronary arteries caused by plaque buildup. Blockages usually prevent the heart from getting oxygen and important nutrients. 

This test can help doctors plan your treatment if you are having a heart attack.

How the Test is Performed?

Coronary Angiography is often done along with cardiac catheterisation. It measures pressure in the heart chambers. Before the test, you will be given a mild sedative to relax . An area of your arm or groin is cleaned and numbed with a local numbing medicine. The cardiologist passes a catheter (thin hollow tube) through an artery and carefully moves it up into the heart. X-ray images help the doctor position the catheter. Once it is in place, dye is injected into the catheter. X-ray images are taken to see how the dye moves through the artery. The dye helps highlighting any blockages in blood flow. The procedure most often lasts 30 - 60 minutes.

How to Prepare for the Test?

You should not eat or drink anything for 8 hours before the test starts. There is a possibility that you may need to stay in the hospital the night before the test. Else, you will check in to the hospital the morning of the test. Do share with your  provider if you:

  • are allergic to any medicines 

  • taking Viagra

  • are pregnant

How the Test will Feel?

Mostly, you will be awake during the test and  feel some pressure at the site where the catheter is placed. A swift feel of flushing or warm sensation might be felt after the dye is injected.

After the test, the catheter shall be removed. In case of the catheter placed in your groin, you will be required to lie flat on your back for few or several hours after the test to avoid bleeding which may cause some mild back discomfort.

Why the Test is Performed?

  • have angina for the first time

  • angina that is worsening, persisting and occurring more often

  •  case of  aortic stenosis

  • atypical chest pain while all other tests are normal

  • an abnormal heart stress test

  • high risk for coronary artery disease before cardiac surgery

  • heart failure

  • been diagnosed  with a heart attack

Normal Results

When there is a normal blood supply to the heart. Zero blockages.

Abnormal Results 

You have a blocked artery. The test can show no. of blocked coronary arteries, where exactly they are blocked, and the severity.


Generally the risk of serious complications ranges from 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 500. Risks include :

  • cardiac tamponade

  • irregular heartbeats

  • injury to a heart artery

  • low blood pressure

  • allergic reaction to contrast dye or a medicine

  • stroke

  • heart attack

Considerations associated with any type of catheterization include the following:

  • risk of bleeding, infection, alongwith pain at the IV or catheter site.

  • a very small risk that the soft plastic catheters could damage the blood vessels 

  • blood clots could form on the catheters and later block blood vessels elsewhere in body.

  • The contrast dye could damage the kidneys 

Authenticated by:

Dr. Gaurav Sharma

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