Basic Facts:

  • A coronary angiogram is a procedure that uses X-ray imaging to see your heart's blood vessels. The test is generally done to see if there's an obstruction in blood flow going to the heart.
  • Coronary angiograms are part of a general group of procedures known as heart (cardiac) catheterizations.
  • During angiography, special fluid (contrast dye) is injected through the catheter. X-ray images show the dye as it flows through the heart arteries.
Cardiac Catherization

In some cases, coronary angiograms are performed on an emergency basis. More commonly, though, they're scheduled in advance, giving you time to prepare.

Angiograms are performed in the catheterization (cath) lab of a hospital. Your health care team will give you specific instructions and talk to you about any medications you take. General guidelines include:

  • Don't eat or drink anything after midnight before your angiogram.
  • Take all your medications to the hospital with you in their original bottles. Ask your doctor about whether to take your usual morning medications.
  • If you have diabetes, ask your doctor if you should take insulin or other oral medications before your angiogram.

Most people can resume normal activities within a few days to a week after their angiogram if no complications result from the procedure. Some guidelines to follow after a cardiac angiogram may include:

  • Avoid lifting more than five or 10 pounds for the first few days,
  • Avoid baths for a few days (showers are usually permitted within 24 hours), and
  • Sexual activity can usually be resumed within three to five days.