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Coronary angiography is a test that uses

dye and special x rays to show the insides of

your coronary arteries. The coronary arteries
supply oxygen-rich blood to your heart.

A waxy substance called plaque can build

up inside the coronary arteries. The buildup
of plaque in the coronary arteries is called
coronary heart disease (CHD).
Over time, plaque can harden or rupture
(break open). Hardened plaque narrows the
coronary arteries and reduces the flow of
oxygen-rich blood to the heart. This can cause
chest pain or discomfort called angina.

If the plaque ruptures, a blood clot can form

on its surface. A large blood clot can mostly or
completely block blood flow through a
coronary artery. This is the most common cause
of a heart attack. Over time, ruptured plaque
also hardens and narrows the coronary
During coronary angiography, special dye is
released into the bloodstream. The dye
makes the coronary arteries visible on x-ray
pictures. This helps doctors see blockages in
the arteries. A procedure called cardiac
catheterization is used to get the dye into the
coronary arteries.
For this procedure, a thin, flexible tube called
a catheter is put into a blood vessel in your
arm, groin (upper thigh), or neck. The tube is
threaded into coronary arteries, and the dye
is released into bloodstream. X-ray pictures
are taken while the dye is flowing through the
coronary arteries.
Symptoms of coronary artery disease, such as
chest pain (angina)
Pain in your chest, jaw, neck or arm that can't
be explained by other tests
New or increasing chest pain (unstable
A heart defect you were born with
(congenital heart disease)
Heart failure
Other blood vessel problems or a chest
A heart valve problem that requires surgery
Surgery unrelated to the heart, but the
patients at high risk of having a heart
problem during that surgery.
Because there's a small risk of
complications, angiograms are usually
done after noninvasive heart tests have
been performed, such as an
electrocardiogram, an echocardiogram or
a stress test.
As with most procedures done on heart and
blood vessels, a coronary angiogram has
some risks. Major complications are rare,
though. Potential risks and complications
Heart attack
Injury to the catheterized artery
Irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias)
Allergic reactions to the dye or
medications used during the procedure
A tear in the heart or artery
Kidney damage
Excessive bleeding
Radiation exposure from the X-rays