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Allina Health facilities with angiography

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Angiogram

An angiogram — also called heart catheterization, cardiac catheterization or cardiac angiography — is a common test used to evaluate your heart muscles, valves and coronary arteries. It can give your doctor exact information about the way your heart functions.

During an angiogram, a cardiologist (a heart doctor) will insert a catheter (a thin, flexible tube) into an artery in your leg or arm. He or she will then thread smaller catheters through it into your blood vessels to reach your coronary arteries. This part of the procedure is called heart or cardiac catheterization.

Once catheters are located in your coronary arteries, a small amount of dye is injected into the catheter. The dye makes your coronary arteries visible on a monitor. The cardiologist can then look for narrowed or blocked arteries in your heart. The image of your arteries is called an angiography.

You'll be awake during an angiogram. You may feel a warm, flushed feeling when the dye is injected.

Ask your cardiologist when you will hear the results of the test.

Possible treatments following an angiogram

If an angiogram shows a narrowed or blocked heart artery, your cardiologist may recommend angioplasty and / or a stent.

  • Angioplasty is a procedure to help open up your blood vessels to improve the blood flow to your heart.
  • A stent is a device inserted into an artery to hold it open.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Helping Your Heart, fourth edition, cvs-ahc-90648
Reviewed by: Daniel Lips, MD, Minneapolis Heart Institute® (video); Allina Health's Patient Education Department (manual)
First Published: 06/01/2007
Last Reviewed: 09/01/2010