If you experience symptoms of heart disease or have a higher risk of developing it, a coronary angiogram may be recommended by your doctor. This is a diagnostic procedure that examines the coronary arteries, which supply oxygen and nutrients to your heart.
At Blackrock Health, we have some of Ireland's most respected cardiologists, cardiac & vascular surgeons on our team. The Blackrock Clinic, in particular, has a long history of pioneering the newest heart treatments and procedures. Our three hospitals, the Blackrock, Galway, and Hermitage Clinics, ensure best practice in care. We provide minimally invasive treatments and the latest technology as well as traditional open-heart techniques. Blackrock Health also offers fast access to the five cath labs in our three hospitals. We provide the most accurate diagnostics and effective care plan possible, with the least possible delay. We offer easy access to our teams of consultants and clinical experts and are committed to helping you achieve optimal heart and vascular health.
A coronary angiogram is a diagnostic procedure used to examine the coronary arteries. Some of the reasons why you might need a coronary angiogram include:
- Chest pain: If you are experiencing chest pain or discomfort, an angiogram can help determine if the cause is a blockage in the coronary arteries.
- Abnormal stress test: If you have had an abnormal stress test, which measures the heart's response to physical activity, a coronary angiogram may be recommended to further check the coronary arteries.
- Heart attack: If you have had a heart attack or are considered as high risk, a coronary angiogram can help determine if there are any blockages in the coronary arteries.
- Heart valve disease: If you have heart valve disease, a coronary angiogram may be recommended to check the function of the heart and its blood vessels.
- Congenital heart disease: If you were born with a heart defect, a coronary angiogram may be used to assess the function of your heart and blood vessels.
Overall, a coronary angiogram is a useful tool to diagnose and treat heart disease. It can help your doctors determine the best course of treatment for you.
A coronary angiogram is a medical procedure that involves X-ray imaging of the blood vessels in the heart (coronary arteries). The procedure is performed by a cardiologist in a hospital setting. During a coronary angiogram, the patient lies down on a bed in the Cath lab and a local anaesthetic is applied to the area where a catheter (thin, flexible tube) will be inserted. The catheter is then inserted into a blood vessel, usually in the groin or wrist, and guided to the coronary arteries using X-ray imaging. Once the catheter is in place, a contrast dye is injected through the catheter into the coronary arteries. The dye allows the cardiologist to see the blood flow through the arteries on an X-ray monitor. The cardiologist can identify any blockages or narrowing in the arteries that could be causing chest pain, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of heart disease. If a blockage or narrowing is identified, the cardiologist may perform an angioplasty to open up the artery using a balloon or stent. The catheter is then removed and the entry site is bandaged to prevent bleeding. After the procedure, the patient is usually monitored for several hours to ensure there are no complications. the patient can usually go home the same day. The results of the angiogram will be discussed with the patient and a treatment plan developed based on the findings.
Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI) & Stenting
If a significant narrowing of the coronary arteries is demonstrated by an angiogram, this can often be addressed by Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI). This is also known as coronary angioplasty or balloon angioplasty. This procedure can treat narrowed or blocked coronary arteries.
During a PCI procedure, a thin, flexible tube called a catheter is inserted into an artery in the arm or leg and guided to the narrowed or blocked coronary artery. A small balloon at the tip of the catheter is then inflated, compressing the plaque and widening the artery to improve blood flow. In some cases, a stent, which is a small metal mesh tube, is placed in the artery to help keep it open. Multiple stents may be needed to treat extensive disease.
PCI is a minimally invasive procedure and is performed in a cardiac catheterisation laboratory by an interventional cardiologist. It can be done on an emergency basis during a heart attack or as a scheduled procedure for people with chronic angina or other symptoms of coronary artery disease.
PCI takes approximately 30 minutes and is classified as a Day Case procedure.
Your procedure involves the use of ionising radiation (x-rays).The radiation dose is monitored throughout the case, ensuring your dose is kept as low as possible. If you have been referred for an angioplasty by your doctor, they will have determined that the benefits of having the procedure are greater then the risks from radiation.
High doses of radiation may be associated with some health risks, such as slightly elevated cancer risk or skin reddening. Although the doses of radiation usually incurred in a given procedure are small, it is possible that cumulative exposure received may produce a reaction such as skin reddening (very like sunburn). If levels measured indicate that the cumulative exposure could cause such skin reactions then appropriate advice will be given and monitoring for any possible reactions instigated.
As X-ray is used, women aged between 12-55 years old will be asked to provide the first date of their last menstrual period (LMP) and sign a "Pregnancy Status Declaration" form. If your period is overdue, a urine pregnancy test will be taken before your procedure. If you are aware that you are pregnant please inform the nurse/radiographer attending to you.
How do I get this?
You will need a referral letter from your GP or consultant before you make an appointment.
Is this insured?
Not all services are covered by health insurance. To find out if you're covered, please check your health insurance before your visit. You can do this on our health insurance cover check page, or by contacting your health insurer.
How do I pay?
If you do not have health insurance or your health plan does not cover the full cost, you will need to pay the balance due before your treatment or procedure. You may be able to claim back some fees on your insurance. To pay an excess not covered by your insurance or any other inpatient fees, please visit our payment page. If you have any queries about paying for your care, please contact the finance team in your hospital.