• Dr Sanjiv
  • Apr 20 2023

Coronary Angiography - When does one need an angiography of the heart?

What Is Coronary Angiography?

Coronary angiography is a diagnostic test that uses a special dye along using high-speed x rays to analyse the blockages in one's coronary arteries.

Coronary Heart Disease:

The coronary arteries regulate the flow of oxygenated blood to the heart. The buildup of a waxy substance called plaque can narrow these arteries, reducing the blood flow to one's heart. This build-up of plaque in the coronary arteries is also known as coronary heart disease (CHD), which may lead to chest pain called angina, or even be an underlying cause of a heart attack over a period of time if the plaque ruptures and blocks the blood flow through a coronary artery.

Overview of Coronary Angiography:

Angiography of heart requires a special dye to be released into the bloodstream. This dye makes the coronary arteries evident on x-ray pictures, helping doctors to evaluate the blood flow and blockages.

Cardiac Catheterization:

To insert the dye into the coronary arteries requires a procedure, where a thin, flexible tube called a catheter is inserted into a blood vessel in one's arm, groin (upper thigh) or neck. The tube is then threaded into the coronary arteries, and a dye is released into the bloodstream.

Coronary Angiography is performed when special high-speed X-ray pictures are taken while the dye is flowing through the coronary arteries.

Cardiologists perform coronary angiography and it causes little or no pain without any anaesthetic. However, one may feel some soreness at the entry point where the catheter is inserted.

Who needs Coronary Angiography?

One may be recommended angiography of heart by their doctor if signs or symptoms of coronary heart disease (CHD) are detected.

Signs and symptoms such as :

Angina: Pain or pressure in your chest running down the shoulders, arms, neck, jaw or back. Emotional stress can trigger pain associated with angina

Sudden Cardiac Arrest: An ailment of the heart, where it may suddenly and unexpectedly stop functioning

Reports: Doctors may recommend angiography of heart after certain indicative results from tests like EKG (electrocardiogram), exercise stress test, and so on.

Course of Treatment: Heart angiography can help the cardiologists to plan the correct course of treatment and elect a procedure after a heart attack or in case of severe angina

Emergency: Coronary angiography is also an emergency procedure during a heart attack

In case of encountering blockages :

If angiography of heart shows one or multiple blockages in one's coronary arteries, a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), also known as coronary angioplasty may be performed to open blocked arteries and prevent further damage, depending upon the percentage of blockage, and possibility of resolution of the same through medication.

Complications :

This procedure rarely causes any severe complications, some general complications like bleeding, infection, and pain at the catheter insertion site are possible. Hence, it is recommended that one opt for angiography of heart at a reputed centre by an experienced physician to avoid any complications.

An ailment of the heart may prove to be fatal if not treated properly in a timely manner. One must not ignore pain that may seem related to heart, breathlessness, stuffy feeling in chest, and sudden fatigue upon exertion, and should visit a qualified physician for evaluation.