Angiogram advice

Why do I need a coronary angiogram?

An angiogram is used to directly see the arteries which supply your heart with blood, oxygen and nutrients.

Other tests can indicate problems with the blood flow to your heart (such as exercise stress testing and myocardial perfusion scans) but an angiogram is the best way to see how bad the narrowings are and if these narrowings are causing your chest pain and shortness of breath.

What are the risks of having an angiogram?

Risks included: Bleeding / bruising at the access site (where the catheters go in to reach your heart), injury to artery (dissection), stroke, heart attack and death. The overall risk of major complication is about 1 in 1000 patients, but may differ slightly depending on operator.

Can I choose if they go in my wrist or groin artery?

Patient choice is very important to us at the Lancashire Cardiac Centre and if you have a preference where the doctor uses to gain access for your angiogram let them know. Your doctor will consider your medical history, along with the type of procedure you are having (and might be having) and will access your pulses at the wrist and groin. If they feel your preference is not advisable they will explain why and offer the alternatives.

What are the other options to having an angiogram?

Most other methods only indicate if blood flow is causing your angina or shortness of breath. Cardiac computer topography (CT) can visualise the coronary arties but you may still require angioplasty to fix the narrowings, which is the same as an angiogram but more invasive.

Who will perform my angiogram?

Either your consultant cardiologists or one of their registrars with excellent experience of performing angiograms will perform your angiogram. The registrar will still have the consultant present and watching at all times.

Why do I have narrowings in my coronary arteries?

The heart is a muscle which needs it’s own specialised network of blood vessels. Angina is caused by narrowings which limit blood reaching your heart muscle. These tightenings are caused by thickening of the walls of the artery, known as atherosclerosis. This process of thickening happens over time and can just be the result of aging but is speeded up by high cholesterol, smoking, being overweight, diabetes, poor diet and lack of exercise.

How long will my angiogram take?

Angiograms usually only take about 30 minutes but it depends on the patient anatomy and how easy it is to find your coronary arteries.

It is important to remember that while you may be asked to attend hospital early, your procedure could take place any time on that day, depending on the number of cases and emergency cases that day. Try to remain patient and staff will keep you informed as they find out more information.