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Diagram of a catheter inserrted into the groin for an angiogram

What is an Angiogram ?

This is an invasive medical procedure to ascertain out whether or not there are any narrowing of the heart's arteries, the presence of heart disease, and how well the heart is functioning. This is also known as a coronary angiogram or a cardiac catheterisation.

What is the Purpose of an Angiogram ?

There are three main coronary arteries, that supply blood and oxygen to the cardiac muscle. These arteries are on the surface of the heart and are usually 3 to 4 millimetres in diameter. There are many branches of these three arteries. If these arteries become narrowed people may complain of angina (chest pain) or other chest discomfort and / or shortness of breath. If an artery is suddenly blocked this can cause a heart attack or coronary.

The main reason for conducting an angiogram is to determine whether there has been any dangerous narrowing of these arteries. If the arteries have been significantly compromised the angiogram will help to determine the correct treatment for the patient. An angiogram will also gather vital data bout the pumping efficiency and valves of the heart.

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Preparing for an Angiogram

Angiograms are performed in a hospital as a day case. There is usually no need for an overnight stay. Preparation for an angiogram should be discussed with your doctor but usually the following precautions would apply:

  • A light breakfast may be taken on the morning of the angiogram unless instructed otherwise.
  • If on warfarin stop taking it five days before the angiogram. Other medications should be taken as usual unless otherwise instructed by your doctor.
  • If you have diabetes, kidney disease, or other conditions, there may further steps necessary in order to avoid complications.
You must arrange to be collected following your angiogram, as you are not allowed to drive or travel home unaccompanied.

The Angiogram Procedure

Diagram of a heart during an angiogram

The angiogram is usually conducted in a specially equipped room called a Cardiac Catheterisation Laboratory, sometimes called a cath lab. An angiogram will usually take about 20 minutes to perform. You will receive sedation by mouth and, if necessary, a small amount of intravenous sedation, which will be administered by a drip in your arm to aid relaxation.

Under normal circumstances a blood vessel in the groin is used to access the arteries. On occasions the left leg or arm may be used. A local anaesthetic is administered to numb the skin over the blood vessel in the right leg. The vessel is punctured with a needle and then a tube, called a catheter, is passed up to the heart arteries using x-ray for guidance. A special x-ray dye is then injected which permits pictures of the heart to be seen and information to be recorded. This dye is excreted from the body by the kidneys after a two or three of hours.

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What Happens After the Angiogram?

When the angiogram is finished pressure will be applied to the point of entry in the groin for up to 15 minutes following the procedure. This allows a seal to form over the puncture wound in the artery. You will need to stay in bed for up to six hours after the procedure. There should be no need for stitches however there may be some bruising and some soreness that may last for a couple of days. Sometimes an artery closure device may be used to seal the puncture site. This aids recovery and you may be mobile after just two hours.

The doctor will discuss the results of your angiogram with you before you are discharged from the hospital and may make recommendations for further treatment. Because sedation is necessary to carry out an angiogram you will need to be accompanied home by a responsible adult. When you get home some body should also stay with you overnight. It is also advised not to drive, operate machinery or undertake heavy physical activity for at least 24 hours after the procedure.

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About The Holistic Health Coach

Tony Lawless is The Holistic Health Coach. Tony's revolutionary approach to health & well-being, dIET® & nutrition, sports preparation & recovery, is spreading rapidly throughout Ireland's health-conscious communities. In his mid-40s and a former senior Clontarf RFC winger, Tony has amassed a wealth of health knowledge and techniques that he employs every day on a personal basis and for his many clients.

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"I am delighted to be able to share with you the products that I use and recommend, and the knowledge that I have learnt over the years, that has brought me health, happiness and success.

I feel that if we can all start to regain our independence and self-confidence we will make this world a better place for ourselves as well as many others. The journey starts with yourself and with your health. I completed my first healing course in the 1990's which centred on enhancing energy flow through the body in order to encourage circulation and so, healing to take place.

Since then I have been developing and maintaining a simple approach to optimum living. I believe that we must always blend both mental and physical techniques to achieve success. I have studied CranioSacral Therapy, Bio-Testing Therapy, Sound & vibrational healing, Access Consciousness and Pilates.

This diverse range of knowledge, techniques, and health-giving products allows me to help my clients to unlock their inner capacity for healthy and successful living. What I offer is truly unique."

Tony Lawless
The Holistic Health Coach
16 Brookwood Rise
Dublin 5

Phone: 087 223 0052
from outside Ireland: +353 (0)87
223 0052


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