A coronary angiogram is an X-ray test that uses contrast dye to study the coronary arteries (also known as blood vessels) supplying blood and oxygen to the heart. Our arteries can become clogged due to buildup of cholesterol or other substances. Having blocked or narrowed arteries can be very serious as it prevent blood and oxygen flowing to heart, causing discomfort or pain (angina). In cases where the narrowed arteries are blocked off suddenly and completely, a heart attack will occur due to lack of oxygen to the heart.
An angiogram is an invasive, non-surgical procedure done at the catheterisation lab and is a day case procedure. Local anaesthetic will be administered at the puncture site, usually wrist or groin. A thin tube (catheter) will be inserted into the artery, followed by a small amount of contrast dye injected through it. The dye appears as dark areas as it flows through the artery showing location of any narrowing and blockages inside of an artery and the level of blockage.
The X-ray images captured allows the cardiologist to visualise the condition of the coronary arteries and see if treatment such as angioplasty or stent, coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG) or medical therapy is needed. Not all blockages require procedures, certain level of narrowing and blockages can be treated with medication and change in lifestyle like maintaining a lower cholesterol, healthy diet and controlling of blood pressure.