A coronary angiogram is a specialized form of X-ray test that can be a valuable tool in diagnosing coronary artery disease (CAD), and is often recommended if non-invasive tests such as an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), echocardiogram, or regular stress test suggest that CAD may be present, but the diagnosis is not certain.
The procedure is performed in conjunction with a coronary catheterization, in which a thin tube is inserted through a tiny incision in the skin into one of the arteries that leads to the heart. Then a contrast dye is injected through the catheter. This dye is visible in X-rays, and allows your Hudson County cardiologist to pinpoint areas where the arteries are blocked, so they can determine whether the condition needs treatment.
Surgical procedures are not required for all blockages that may be found during this procedure. Some can be effectively treated by taking medication, lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, eating a healthy diet, getting more exercise, and stopping smoking.
Other blockages can be treated – even during the coronary angiogram procedure itself – with angioplasty, in which a tiny balloon is inflated to improve blood flow through the blocked artery. Serious blockages may require stent placement or coronary artery bypass surgery. As with most invasive procedures performed on the heart and major blood vessels, there is some risk, but major complications are rare.