The Roadmap to Heart Health Through the Angiogram Procedure

Blog Post
By South Valley Vascular
November 6, 2023

Maintaining a healthy heart is the best way to have a long and healthy life. One of the best ways to know more about the condition of your heart is through an angiogram. A coronary angiogram, also called an arteriogram, is a procedure that can help experts detect potential vascular problems before they worsen. 

Today, we’ll be taking a closer look at the angiogram procedure and how it can help lead to a healthier heart.

The Angiogram Procedure Step-by-Step

Usually, an angiogram procedure is performed as a day case, meaning you’ll be in the hospital for only one day. Before the procedure, you’ll be prepared by a nurse taking your medical history. You’ll have to change into a gown, and the nurse will put in an IV cannula. They may shave both sides of your groin or wrist if necessary for better access.

In the lab, you’ll lie on a special table. A heart monitor will record your heartbeat as the doctor injects a small amount of local anesthetic. This may be either in the wrist or groin area before inserting a small catheter through the skin. From there, the doctor will monitor the catheter’s progress into the vein through dynamic X-rays and a special television monitor.

Once in place, the catheter will inject a small amount of x-ray-sensitive dye into the vein. This special dye, also called contrast, will help make any irregularities or problems more readily visible under x-ray. The doctor will take several pictures over time for study.

The procedure is almost entirely painless, though you may feel a warm flush or tingling when the contrast is injected. The test usually lasts for around 40 minutes or so, depending on other factors.

What to Know Before You Start: What is an Angiogram?

What is an angiogram? Let’s take a closer look at the word itself. Angiogram comes from the Greek angeion or “vessel” and graphein or “to write, record.” An angiogram, then, is a written record (or chart) of the blood vessels over time.

By studying these charts, a doctor can notice early signs of weakness, strain, or other problems in the vein. They can diagnose various heart problems, including aneurysms (abnormal ballooning of the heart wall,) arrhythmias, or birth defects.

In addition to coronary angiograms, there are also cerebral angiogram procedures, which examine the veins in and around the brain. A pulmonary angiogram is less frequently performed but can be used to visualize potential vein issues in the lungs.

Questions You May Be Asked Before an Angiogram

Before an angiogram is performed, your doctor may have certain questions or concerns to address. These will start with general questions about your medical history. Likely, this will include any past history of asthma, allergies, or kidney disease.

Then, they’ll ask about any past allergic reactions to drugs, as well as any current medications you may be taking. They may ask you to discontinue some medications, like blood thinners, prior to testing.

You may be asked to fast four to six hours prior to testing. Also, you may be asked to perform preliminary blood tests, ECG, chest x-ray, or cardiac CT. With all this information, it will be a first step towards understanding your healthier heart.

South Valley Vascular: Your Destination for Heart Health

With a well-performed angiogram procedure, you’re going the right way towards ongoing heart health. If you’re searching for a place to start drawing that map yourself, consider going to South Valley Vascular

They have a lot of experience performing angiogram procedures and will help you in a friendly and professional environment. Call or schedule your appointment today to see how South Valley can help you.