Coronary Angiogram


A coronary angiogram (often referred to as ‘an angio’) is a procedure using X-ray dye to find out if your coronary arteries are narrowed or blocked.

What is a coronary angiogram?

A coronary angiogram is a diagnostic procedure that is used to evaluate if your coronary arteries are narrowed or blocked. X-ray dye is injected into the arteries during the procedure which enables the cardiologists to see how your blood flows through the arteries on the surface of your heart.

Why has my cardiologist recommended a Coronary Angiogram?

For patients who are experiencing chest pain or shortness of breath during exercise, your cardiologist may suggest a coronary angiogram if they suspect these symptoms are caused by coronary artery disease. Coronary artery disease is a common form of heart disease that occurs when a fatty substance called plaque builds up in the blood vessels that supply your heart with oxygen. The build-up of plaque usually happens slowly over time, causing the vessels to become narrowed or in severe cases blocked. The narrowing or blocking of your arteries reduces the amount of oxygen that can reach your heart muscles leading you to experience symptoms of coronary artery disease. Your cardiologist will use the results of your coronary angiogram to determine the most appropriate personalised management plan.

What are the risks associated with a coronary angiogram?

An angio is a safe procedure, but as with all procedures there are some risks associated.

You may experience bruising or swelling at the puncture site used by your cardiologist to access your blood vessel.

Uncommonly a coronary angiogram may be associated with:

  • Allergic reaction to the X-ray dye and medications given during the procedure.
  • Bleeding.
  • Abnormal heart rhythms (called ‘arrhythmias’).
  • Injury to the artery.
  • Reduced kidney function.
  • Heart attack or stroke.
  • Emergency heart surgery.
  • Death from this procedure is rare

Your individual risks will be discussed by your cardiologist before the procedure. They will depend on your age, your other medical conditions, and other factors.

What should I expect when undergoing a coronary angiogram?


You will need to have bloods taken before you have your coronary angiogram to check how well your kidneys are functioning.

Your cardiologist may request that you stop taking some of your medications before the procedure, especially blood thinners or SGLT2 inhibitors used to treat diabetes and heart failure. Instructions for this will supplied to you in writing.

We would also request you remove all jewellery before the angiogram.



At SouthWest Cardiovascular your coronary angiogram will be performed by a cardiologist who is highly trained in performing this procedure and has undergone specialist-level training in this field. For your convenience, all of our procedures take place at St John of God in Bunbury. This procedure takes place in a specially designed cardiac procedure room (colloquially called ‘the cath lab’). You will be awake for the procedure, but our team will give you a medication to help you feel relaxed (a sedative) and inject the puncture site in the wrist or groin with a local anaesthetic to numb the area.

Your cardiologist will then:

  • Make a small puncture in either your wrist or groin and gently insert a cardiac catheter, a thin plastic tube.

  • Slowly move the catheter up to blood vessel to your heart.

  • Inject a small amount of X-ray dye into the coronary arteries.

  • Take X-rays as the dye moves through the blood vessels on the surface of your heart, this shows areas that have become narrowed or blocked.

  • Remove the catheter and apply pressure and a dressing to the puncture site.

You should expect the procedure to take around 20-45 minutes.


Following your coronary angiogram you will be moved to the recovery area or the cardiology ward to rest. You may feel a little tender at the site of the catheter insertion and have some temporary bruising.

Depending on the outcome of your procedure you may be required to stay overnight (though this is rare)

You will not be able to drive for the following 24 hours so it is advisable that you arrange to be collected by family or friends from St John of God Bunbury.

A follow up appointment with your cardiologist will be scheduled where long term management and lifestyle advice will be discussed. Coronary artery disease is a chronic condition that requires both a treatment plan and for you to follow some healthy heart advice.