What is Angiogram? Why it is and riskfactors of Angiogram (2023)

A coronary angiogram, as the name suggests, is a diagnostic procedure in which your doctor uses X-rays to see and examine the blood vessels of your heart.

If your doctor suspects that there might be something that is restricting blood flow to the heart, he or she is more likely to recommend a coronary angiogram. Also, this procedure helps in getting clear pictures of blood circulationinto different body organs. Angiograms help doctors to diagnose major or minor disorders, which are affecting the blood flow to the heart, brain, or other organs of the human body.

Angiograms also help in checking the abnormalities in blood vessels, which include deteriorated blood flow, fatty deposits in arteries, and blood clots.

Why is the angiogram procedure performed?

An angiogram can detect many cardiovascular diseases like coronary atherosclerosis, vascular stenosis, and aortic aneurysms. Your doctor can recommend this procedure to you for several reasons, such as:

  • If you are observed with signs of coronary artery disease like angina (chest pain).
  • If you have issues like severe and unclear pain in your chest, neck, left arm, or jaw.
  • If you have new or sudden increase in chest pain, which is medically known as unstable angina.
  • If you were diagnosed with congenital heart disease—a heart defect since birth.
  • If the tests show abnormal results on ECG or any noninvasive heart tests like exercise stress testing, myocardial perfusion imaging, or echocardiography.
  • If the doctor observes any other blood vessel problems.
  • If you have had any past or present chest injury.
  • If you have an issue with your heart valve that requires surgery.
  • If you had a stroke, heart failure, or heart attack.

However, sometimes there is a possibility of complications during angiography. This is why it is not directly perfromed , until after any noninvasive heart tests like heart stress tests, echocardiograms, or electrocardiograms.

There are also other reasons why a doctor might recommend an angiogram:

  • To check the health of blood vessels before the surgery is performed
  • To detect the blood vessels nurturing a tumor
  • To create a treatment plan for problems like stenting, coronary bypass, or chemoembolization
  • To properly check the placement of a stent after surgery

What are the risks associated with angiogram?

Like any other heart and blood vessels procedures, a coronary angiogram also has certain risks involved, like exposure to X-rays (radiation). However, the incidences of any severe complications are rare. Some of the possible risks and complications may include the following:

(Video) Benefits and Risks of an Angiogram

  1. Stroke
  2. Heart Attack
  3. Arrhythmias (Irregular rhythms of the heart)
  4. Damage to the kidneys
  5. Infection
  6. Blood clotting
  7. Bruising
  8. Excessive bleeding
  9. Damage to the catheterized artery
  10. Allergic reactions owing to the drugs or dyes used for the procedure

How do doctors prepare for angiography?

In some extreme cases, an angiography is done on an emergency basis. However, this procedure is mostly scheduled in advance, allowing patients to get prepared.

The guidelines to follow are:

  • No consumption of food and water before angiography.
  • For diabetic patients, consult the doctor on dosage of insulin, and other oral medications before angiography.
  • Tell your doctor regarding any allergies and details of the current medications you are taking.

What to expect from an angiography procedure?

Before performing the procedure.

Before starting your angiogram, your doctor is more likely to examine your medical history, such as medicines you have been taking, allergies, etc. After medical history, he or she will perform a physical examination and examine your vital signs, including your pulse rate and blood pressure.

The doctor will go through your medical history and check for allergies and medications that you are taking.

They will perform a physical examination to check for your vital signs.

They will check your blood pressure and pulse rate.

(Video) Potential risks and complications of Angiography - Dr. Sreekanth B Shetty

During the procedure.

Depending on the reason for angiography and age of the patient, doctors decide whether or not general anesthesia will be given. However, for children, anesthesia is usually given during angiography.

After the X-ray machine is set to get a clear picture of your heart, the doctor makes a small incision in the skin to get to one of the arteries. Local anesthesia is given to patients to numb the area of the incision.

Your doctor will make a small cut at the site of entry and insert a sheath (short plastic tube) through it into your artery. Thereafter, he/she will insert a catheter into your blood vessel via the sheath and attach it to your coronary arteries or heart.

This procedure, including threading and moving of the catheter through your body, should not be painful or discomforting. However, if you feel any of these, do inform your doctor.

After that, your doctor will inject a contrast material or dye through the catheter. During this process, you might experience a feeling of warmth or flushing for a while. However, make sure to inform your doctor if it feels uncomfortable. The contrast material can be easily detected on X-ray images. So, as it flows through your body, your doctor will be able to see how and where it moves and if or not there is any kind of blockage in between.

Based on the inference of the procedure, your doctor may use additional catheter methods, like a stent placement or balloon angioplasty, for opening the blocked or narrowed blood vessel. Your doctor may use other non-invasive diagnostic procedures, like ultrasound, to evaluate your blockages.

(Video) Post your coronary angiogram | What to know.

The small incision is made over your wrist or groin, and a thin, long, and flexible tube is inserted into the artery. By using an X-ray, the catheter is directed to the area of the heart that is being examined.

A special contrast agent is inserted through the tube that makes it easy for the doctors to see and read X-ray.

A series of X-rays images are taken when the contrast agent flows through the blood vessels, as it helps to observe and detect the blockages and restricted areas inside the heart.

Normally, angiography takes around one hour. However, depending on the complexity of the procedure, it can take some additional time.

After the procedure.

If a catheter was inserted in the groin, you have to lie flat for many hours to avoid bleeding. During such time, pressure will be applied to the cut (incision) in order to prevent bleeding and also promote healing.

You can go home the same day, or you may also have to be in the hospital overnight. Consume lots of fluids to flush the dye from your body. If you are feel like it, you can have something to eat.

(Video) What are the risks associated with an angiogram?

Ask your medical team when to start taking medicines, showering or bathing, working and performing other normal activities. Avoid heavy lifting as well as strenuous activities for many days.

Your site where the pucture was made may possibly remain tender for a while. It may be bruised slightly and have a small bump.

Post procedure care.

  • Take rest for at least 24 hours
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Don’t smoke or consume alcohol
  • Take medications as advised

What results are observed after angiography?

A doctor perfroms the angiography to check the issues with your blood vessels. The following could be identified :

  • Blockages in your blood vessels and arteries.
  • The amount of blood flowing through the vessels and how much is blocked.
  • Outcomes from earlier coronary bypass surgery.

When the angiography is done, your doctor can easily determine the next course of action. Based on the results from angiography, your doctor will decide the type of procedure to be initiated, like coronary angioplasty.

When to seek medical attention?

After angiography, if you face any of the following problems, you need to contact your doctor immediately:

  • If the incision over the wrist or groin starts bleeding
  • If your pain isn’t relieved by painkillers
  • If skin becomes inflamed, hot, or red
  • If discoloration occurs over the incision
  • If there is a firm lump near the incision

Book an Appointment with Cardiologist

(Video) Risks of Coronary Angiogram

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What is Angiogram? Why it is and riskfactors of Angiogram? ›

An angiogram is a diagnostic procedure that uses imaging to show your provider how your blood flows through your blood vessels or heart. An injected contrast material makes it easy to see where blood is moving and where blockages are. Your provider can use X-rays or other types of imaging for your angiogram.

What are the risks of an angiogram? ›

Possible minor complications include: an infection where the cut was made, causing the area to become red, hot, swollen and painful – this may need to be treated with antibiotics. a mild reaction to the contrast agent, such as an itchy rash – it can usually be controlled with medicine.

What is an angiogram and why is it important? ›

A coronary angiogram is a special procedure that takes dynamic x-ray pictures of your heart. The purpose of this procedure is to see if your coronary arteries are narrowed or blocked and to look for abnormalities of your heart muscle or heart valves.

What are the positives and negatives of angiogram? ›

MR angiogram: MRA

It can diagnose stenosis, aneurysm and abnormal anatomy of vessels etc. It is not useful for coronary artery disease. Disadvantage: The cots and the long time for the examination for the patient to remain still.

What are the risk and complications of angiography? ›

The main risks of coronary angiography include: bleeding under the skin at the wound site (haematoma) – this should improve after a few days, but contact your GP if you're concerned. bruising – it's common to have a bruise in your groin or arm for a few weeks.

Is angiogram a major surgery? ›

Angiograms (with or without balloon angioplasty/stenting) are considering outpatient procedures and patients usually go home the same day. After the procedure, expect 4-6 hours of bed rest to avoid bleeding at the artery access site.

How long does it take to recover from an angiogram? ›

You should also make sure that someone stays with you overnight in case you experience any problems. Most people feel fine a day or so after having the procedure. You may feel a bit tired, and the wound site is likely to be tender for up to a week. Any bruising may last for up to 2 weeks.

Who should not get an angiogram? ›

An angiogram isn't right for everyone. Other tests may give you and your doctor all the information you need to make treatment decisions. These other tests do not have the risks of an angiogram. It's usually not suggested if you have a low risk of a heart attack or you don't have angina symptoms.

What is a safer alternative to an angiogram? ›

A cardiac CT Scan is a less invasive version of the traditional angiogram. Using state-of-the-art CT scanners checks the arteries that supply blood to the heart, and specialists can use them to diagnose conditions such as coronary artery disease (CAD).

Is angiogram safe for elderly? ›

There are some risks involved with an angiogram, which involves a thin flexible tube being inserted into your wrist or groin and passed through to the heart. These risks, such as bleeding or injury to blood vessels, can be more common in older people.

What should avoid after angiography? ›

Strenuous exercise and lifting heavy objects

One thing to avoid after angioplasty is any strenuous activity for at least a week. This includes any kind of physical activity, from working out with weights to lifting heavy objects at home or work.

What is the age limit for angiogram? ›

Coronary angiography is a minimally invasive procedure that helps detect various coronary artery abnormalities. It is indicated for coronary heart disease, heart failure, angina pectoris, etc. The examination can be performed on elderly patients, including people over 80 years of age.

What not to do after angiogram? ›

Do not do strenuous exercise and do not lift, pull, or push anything heavy until your doctor says it is okay. This may be for several days. You can walk around the house and do light activity, such as cooking. If the catheter was placed in your groin, try not to walk up stairs for the first couple of days.

What is the success rate of angiogram? ›

The success rate was 97.6% for CAG and 96.3% for PCI.

Is angiogram safe for 70 years old? ›

After the age of 70 years, 58 per cent of coronary angiographies are performed as part of the haemodynamic survey of valvular disease. The risk of the examination appears to be higher, as two deaths occurred in this small series, while the mortality is estimated to be 2 per thousand in younger patients.

What can you not do after angiogram? ›

Avoid any lifting or strenuous activity for 48 hours, as this increases the pressure in your groin area, making it more likely that the wound will bleed.


1. All about the Coronary Angiogram
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2. Angiogram - BRAIN angio procedure video
3. Should you get a Coronary Angiogram?
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4. #SHORTS CT Angiogram VS Coronary Angiogram
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5. 5 Important Precautions after Angioplasty (Heart Stenting) | Heart Disease | Healing Hospital
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6. What are the risks of coronary angioplasty?
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