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When coronary artery disease is suspected,  an angiogram (also called a cardiac catheterization or a coronary arteriogram) will help you and your doctor to determine which course of treatment is right for your condition.

What to expect

A nurse will measure your blood pressure, pulse and weight, and will ask you to describe your medical history and any allergies you may have. Electrodes will be placed on your chest to monitor your heart rhythm. A blood pressure cuff on your upper arm will take measurements and a clip on the end of your finger will continuously monitor the level of oxygen in your blood. Next, an IV with sedative medication is started, and an area of your groin is cleaned and prepared. Then a physician will inject a small amount of local anesthetic into your groin to numb the area. This may sting for 30 seconds. The physician then pushes on the groin as a series of three tubes (catheters) are advanced into the artery and up to your heart. A special dye is injected into the arteries and pictures are taken from several angles by overhead camera equipment.The dye and X-ray allows cardiologists to view where an artery is blocked or narrowed.

When the dye is released inside your body, you will feel a warm sensation. If you feel any pain, inform the physician or nurses. After the procedure, you will be taken to a recovery area where your vital signs are closely monitored. The catheter will be removed from your artery and pressure maintained on your groin for 20 minutes. A bandage is placed over the area, and you may receive a collagen "plug" at the site to speed up your recovery. The intervention procedure itself takes about 20 minutes to one hour, but the preparation and recovery time add several hours.

Depending on the results of the angiogram, your cardiologist may recommend therapy, bypass surgery or a catheter-based cardiac intervention.

More information

University of Colorado Health Cardiology and Cardiothoracic Surgery offers northern Colorado's most experienced physician team in this type of procedure. For more information, we offer helpful resources with links to more detailed heart surgery information. To learn more, please contact us at 970.221.1000.

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