Heart diseases when caught early, can be treated effectively and thus allows to lead a healthier life in the long run. Many heart procedures help identify the root cause of the problem and paves way for timely medical intervention that results in better heart functioning.

To understand the medical procedures, we need to first understand the heart diseases a little bit.

What is Coronary Artery disease?

The blood vessels that carry blood to your heart are called Coronary arteries. Any narrowing or blockage in these arteries lead to coronary artery disease. 

Coronary artery disease usually develops when major blood vessels in the heart become diseased or damaged. The cholesterol deposits, known as plaque in your coronary arteries is one of the main reasons for occurrence of coronary artery diseases.

Coronary arteries supply oxygen, blood and other nutrients to the heart. Once there is plaque build up, it decreases the blood flow to the heart due to narrowing of arteries. The decreased blood flow causes shortness of breath, chest pain and sometimes lead to complete blockage which results in heart attack.

Coronary artery disease takes decades to develop and might go missed until there is a significant noticeable blockage or heart attack. But most often getting regular heart check ups help monitor these hidden blockages and any complications can be handled at the right time.

There are many risk factors for coronary artery diseases to occur. Age, sex, family history, smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, physical inactivity are some of the factors that contribute towards coronary artery diseases. 

How do you detect Coronary Artery diseases? 

There are tests like Coronary Angiogram which are specifically carried out to identify the blockage of arteries. Let’s take a detailed look at Coronary Angiogram and when should one consider getting this done.

What is Coronary Angiogram?

Coronary angiogram, also called Coronary Angiography, is a test used to find the blockage in the coronary artery. Coronary Angiograms are cardiac procedures that can diagnose blockage in arteries which can later be treated with angioplasty or coronary bypass.

Coronary Angiogram: When Should One Consider It

Why and when is Coronary Angiogram done?

Coronary Angiography is an imaging test which uses X-rays to view blood vessels & arteries of the heart. The X-rays provided as a result of the angiography is known as Coronary Angiogram. 

The most common reasons for your doctor to suggest a Coronary Angiogram includes:

  • Chest pain (Angina)
  • Pain in neck, jaw, arm which remains unexplained after other tests
  • Unstable Angina  or increase in chest pain
  • Congenital heart disease (If you are born with a heart defect)
  • Varied results in non-invasive heart tests like stress tests, treadmill, ECG etc.
  • Heart valve problem that requires surgery

What happens during a Coronary Angiogram test?

On the day of the procedure, your doctor might give you a mild sedative that helps you relax. Your doctor will clean and numb the groin  or arm area with an anaesthetic. In order to view the X-ray images, your doctor will inject a liquid dye through a thin, flexible tube called catheter. Through the access point made earlier, your doctor will thread the catheter to view the desired artery.

The dye injected earlier makes the blood flow inside blood vessels visible on X-ray such that it shows if the artery is narrow or has any blocks. The dye takes about 24 hours to get eliminated through the body via kidneys and urine. Your doctor may advise you to consume more water until the dye passes out of your system.

Once the angiogram is over, the catheter is removed from your groin or arm. You will be wheeled in to the recovery area and the nurses will monitor your blood pressure at regular intervals. You will be advised to lie flat for a few hours to avoid bleeding if the angiogram is done via groin..

After recovery, you may be allowed to go home the same day or kept in hospital overnight until you recover.

Are there any risks of coronary angiogram?

All medical procedures have some risks involved. However, it’s important to note the benefits and if those outweigh the risks. 

Some of the minor complications that may be anticipated are:

– Bleeding under the skin at site used to insert the catheter, however the pain will reduce in few days and if it does not, then we suggest visiting your doctor if pain increases

– Allergy to the dye used in the form of rash. It is advised to discuss allergies with your cardiologist before having the procedure.

– Bruising is another common  issue seen from the catheter for a few weeks, which will subside gradually.

Some of the serious complications, though not very common, includes:

– Artery damage in the arm or groin from the catheter, which may lead to decreased blood flow to limb

– Stroke

– Heart attack

– Kidney damage due to contrast dye used

– Tissue damage due to prolonged X-ray radiation

– Bleeding

– Death (extremely rare)

What are the benefits of coronary angiogram?

Coronary Angiograms can help detect if arteries are narrowed or blocked. Timely medical intervention in the form of Coronary Angiograms can help your doctor to see if any change in treatment is required such as change in medicine, angioplasty, coronary bypass surgery so that chest pain (angina) can be improved. It also lowers risk of heart attack or death from cardiac problems. 

Understand and interpret results of coronary angiography test

A printed format of your report along with a CD will be given as reports. These are the findings of the procedure done. An angiogram can indicate the following:

 – If coronary arteries are blocked or narrowed by plaque formation

– Show how much blood is blocked through blood vessels

– The blood flow through heart & blood vessels are checked

– Pinpoint the blockages in blood vessels

This comprehensive information allows your cardiologist to determine what treatment is best suited for you. What is the immediate danger to the heart.  Based on the reports, your doctor will also be able to give you a clear way forward if angioplasty is preferred or stenting to clear the clogged arteries. 

Your cardiologist may advise to perform angioplasty or stenting after angiogram in the same setting if the block is severe and also to avoid multiple procedures.

For more information on Coronary Angiogram or to get your health evaluation done, contact Dr. Pavankumar Rasalkar at +91- 9902147888 or book an appointment here.

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