What Is an Angiogram? 7 Things You Need to Know

We understand. It can be scary. When something is wrong with your heart  it can be stressful, especially if you’ve been told you need an angiogram procedure.  

Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered, and when you learn more about this procedure, we feel it will put your mind at ease. With our state-of-the-art equipment, experienced cardiologists and radiologists, we’ll provide the world-class care you need and deserve.

In honor of National Heart Month, let’s take a look at what is an angiogram, the angiogram procedure and seven things you need to know.

What Is an Angiogram?

This is a cardiac (heart) procedure where we use a CT scanner to get 3D pictures of your heart and blood vessels while it is still pumping.

This enables us to see blockages and any places where the arteries are narrowing.

You may also hear this referred to as a coronary CT angiogram.

How Is the Coronary CT Angiogram Performed?

A CT scanner is a type of X-ray that can provide detailed, 3D images of different parts of your body.

First, you’re placed on the exam table, and you’ll be given something to help you relax. Then, an IV is inserted into your hand or arm. In this IV is a contrast that enables certain parts of your heart to “light up” when the CT is taken.

The exam table will then go through the scanner. You’ll likely hear some clicking and whirring noises, but the scan is painless. And you’re not alone—while the doctor or technologist will need to leave the room during the scan, he or she will be talking to you through an intercom.

7 Things You Need to Know About an Angiogram

Why is this procedure so valuable? Let’s take a look at 7 things that are important about an angiogram.

1. It enables us to evaluate certain conditions.

When we perform a CT scan, we are searching for conditions such as:

  • Heart disease
  • Calcium buildup in the arteries
  • Problems with the aorta (a major vessel in the heart)
  • Issues with heart function
  • Problems with the veins in your lungs

2. A coronary CT angiogram lasts about 20 minutes up to an hour.

However, you might have to wait for additional minutes so the technician ensures that the images are acceptable.

3. You may be asked to hold your breath during the scan.

This helps us get clear images.

4. When the contrast material is placed into your arm, you may feel a warm sensation.

It’s also not unusual to have a brief, metallic taste in your mouth.

5. You can return to your normal activities after the exam.

Granted, this may vary slightly depending upon your individual situation, but typically, after your IV is removed, you can continue with your day.

6. Be sure to let us know if you have diabetes.

If so, there may be specific instructions about eating or drinking the day of the test. Please also check with us if you are taking Metformin, a medication designed to help lower blood sugar.

7. Your doctor may suggest an angiogram procedure if you show potential symptoms of heart disease.

These include:

  • Chest pain (sometimes referred to as angina)
  • Pain in your jaw, neck or arm that isn’t explained by other tests
  • Chest injuries
  • Increasing chest pain
  • Any abnormal results on a heart test
  • Problems with heart valves
  • Evaluation of a heart issue you were born with

Want more information about angiograms? Check out our latest blog post

Things You May Not Know About Heart Attacks

Did you know that many people have heart attacks without feeling pain in their chests? Were you aware that men and women often have different symptoms of a heart attack?

We’ve compiled some of these important pieces of health information. If you find you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed, call 9-1-1 and get to the nearest emergency room. 

Symptoms include:

  • Chest pain or discomfort
    This is the symptom with which people are the most familiar, although it doesn’t always occur like a crushing pain. Some involve discomfort that can even go away and come back. It can feel like fullness, pain, squeezing or uncomfortable pressure.
  • Pain in the upper body
    This includes pain in either one of your arms. Women, in particular, may experience pain in the neck or jaw. You might also experience discomfort or pain in your back or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath
    This can occur either with chest pain or without it. When combined with the other symptoms, it can indicate a heart attack
  • Signs you might not think of
    Did you realize that nausea can be a symptom? So can breaking out in a cold sweat or experiencing lightheadedness. Once again, pay particular attention if these signs occur when you’re experiencing pain or discomfort in the other areas listed above.

Our High-Tech Heart Center Proudly Serves the Horry County Region

With fellowship-trained physicians, we provide the advanced heart care you need with compassion. Some of the services we offer include:

We also offer a rehabilitation program for heart patients through our specialized Wellness and Fitness Center. This center closely follows all guidelines that are set by the American Association of Cardiovascular (heart) and Pulmonary (lung) Rehabilitation (AACVPR).

If your doctor has said you need an angiogram or any of the tests listed above, you can rest assured that you’re in good hands. Contact us today for more information.