Coronary angiography (also known as cardiac catheterization) is a test that uses a contrast dye and specialized x-rays to view the insides of your coronary arteries, which supply oxygen-rich blood to your heart.
A coronary angiography/cardiac catheterization is helpful if you have:
- An abnormal heart stress test
- First-time angina (chest pain)
- Angina that is getting worse, not going away, occurring more often, or happening irregularly or at rest
- Aortic stenosis
- Atypical chest pain, when other tests are normal
- Had a recent heart attack
- Heart failure
- A high risk for coronary artery disease or have been told you need heart surgery.
Plaque can build up over time inside the coronary arteries, which can harden or rupture. If the plaque ruptures, a blood clot can form, and if large enough, block blood flow through the artery. This is the most common cause of heart attacks. Over time, ruptured plaque can also harden and narrow the coronary arteries, limiting blood flow, and causing angina, exertional chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, and other common symptoms of advanced heart disease.
During an angiogram/catheterization, a special dye is released into the bloodstream through a catheter placed into the femoral artery. The dye makes the coronary arteries visible on x-ray. This helps doctors see blockages in the arteries and perhaps repair them if the situation dictates (see stent placement/coronary angioplasty).
How do I prepare?
Please arrive at the hospital’s outpatient entrance to register, making sure you bring your insurance cards and picture identification with you. If possible, please discuss the following suggestions with Dr. Fenster prior to your procedure:
- DO NOT eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your procedure.
- Take the following medications the morning of your procedure with a sip of water (unless your doctor has told you otherwise):
*Heart and blood pressure medications
*Plavix and aspirin if they have been prescribed to you
DO NOT take the following medications:
*Diabetic medications, including Glucophage. Stop taking the night before the procedure.
*Coumadin (unless your doctor instructed you to take it) – stop three days prior to procedure
*Xarelto – stop 1 day prior to procedure
*Pradaxa – stop two days prior to procedure
*Diuretic medications/“water pill” such as Lasix or Hydrochorothiazide. Do not take the morning of procedure; you may resume the evening after your procedure.
Bring a list of ALL medications, including over-the-counter medications. Include dosage and times you take them.
- Take a shower the night before or the morning of your procedure.
- Please leave ALL valuables at home.
- If you become sick with any virus, sore throat, temperature/fever, or cough, notify Dr. Fenster prior to coming to the hospital.
- Make sure your have an emergency contact with their phone number.
- You will NOT be able to drive yourself home, so make sure you have a responsible person to drive you home.
- Make sure to have your lab work drawn 2-3 days prior to the cardiac catheterization. These can be drawn at the lab or hospital of your choice. A prescription for the lab will be provided to you.
A more complete and detailed analysis of all of the findings from your cardiac catheterization will be discussed in your follow-up visit to Dr. Fenster within a week of your procedure.
What are the risks?
Coronary angiography is a common medical test. The risk of complications is higher in people who are older and in those who have certain diseases or conditions (such as chronic kidney disease and diabetes).
Possible complications may include:
-Pain/angina, bleeding, or infection
-Blood vessel damage (at times requiring immediate surgery)
-Reaction to the dye if allergic or have compromised kidney function
The procedure is performed at:
Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center
3360 Burns Rd
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410
If you have any questions concerning your procedure, please call Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center at (561) 622-1411 or contact the Cardiac Institute of the Palm Beaches at (561) 296-5225.
American Heart Association: What is a Coronary Angiogram?