Accounting to 1 in every 4 deaths, heart diseases are the number one killer as well as major causes of various disabilities. There are several different kinds of heart diseases, few are very common, one being coronary artery disease. It usually develops when the arteries that supply blood to the heart become clogged with plaque, that contains cholesterol and other substances. As a consequence, the blood supply decreases and the heart receives less oxygen and fewer nutrients. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment may lower the risk of a person having heart diseases. There are various kinds of tests and procedures such as angiograms, to detect and treat different types of heart diseases.
Angiography is a test that creates detailed pictures with the help of X-rays to examine blood vessels of a human body. The X-rays offered by an angiography are known as angiograms.
An angiogram can reveal what’s wrong with one’s blood vessels. It can:
- Reveal the count of coronary arteries blocked or narrowed due to fatty plaques (atherosclerosis).
- Track down where the blockages are located in one’s blood vessels.
- Check the blood flow via one’s heart and blood vessels.
- Show how much blood flow is blocked through one’s blood vessels.
An X-ray of the arteries in the heart is called coronary angiogram, which shows the extent and severity of any heart disease and might aid doctors in figuring out how well one’s heart is working. Generally, this test is done to check if there’s a restriction in blood flow going to the heart. Coronary angiograms fall under a general group of procedures known as heart catheterizations. Cardiac or heart catheterization procedures can both examine and treat heart and blood vessel conditions. It is a common kind of heart catheterization procedure.
Doctors might recommend coronary angiography, if one is experiencing certain symptoms:
Before the procedure
Prior to the angiogram procedure, the doctor reviews the medical history, including allergies and medications, the patient takes. Few physical exams are performed, such as blood pressure and pulse. The bladder should be empty before the procedure. Before the test, the doctor may administer a mild sedative, that might aid the person to relax.
During the procedure
During the coronary angiogram, a type of contrast dye which is visible in an X-ray machine is injected into the blood vessels of the patient’s heart. A series of images is taken rapidly, producing a picture of one’s blood vessels. There is a slight possibility that clogged heart arteries are unclogged during the coronary angiogram.
The area of the body where doctors will insert the catheter is to be disinfected and numbed. Doctors will make a tiny cut in the skin and will insert the catheter into the artery.
Once the catheter is inside the artery, the doctor will guide it to the blood vessels which they want to inspect. The contrast dye will be injected through the catheter and the doctor will take X-ray pictures of the blood vessels.
After the procedure
After the X-ray images are taken, the doctor will take out the catheter and apply steady pressure on the area for about 15 minutes, to be sure that there is no internal bleeding in the body.
The results of angiogram are used to diagnose the following conditions:
- Bulges or aneurysms that grow in weakened artery walls.
- Congenital abnormalities in the blood vessels or heart.
- Blood clots or pulmonary embolisms.
- Abnormal narrowing of the blood vessels that lead to the brain, heart or legs, referred to as vascular stenosis.
- Atherosclerosis, that occurs when plaques and fatty material collect on the inner walls of the arteries.
There are complications and advantages involved with performing a coronary angiogram and angioplasty, as with other medical procedures.
Minor Complications (common ones):
- Bleeding beneath the skin at the site of the wound. This may improve after a few days.
- Bruising, pretty common after the procedure.
- Rash or redness, allergies because of the contrast dye used in the procedure.
- Infections or irregular heartbeats.
Serious Complications (uncommon ones):
- Serious bleeding
- If the procedure is prolonged, it might damage the tissues
- Damage to the artery in the groin or arm from the catheter.
- Contrast dye may damage the kidneys.
Since there is a small risk of complications, so angiograms aren’t usually done before the noninvasive heart tests have been performed such as an electrocardiogram, an echocardiogram or a stress test.