Why cardiac catheterisation and coronary angiography are used

Cardiac catheterisation and coronary angiography can provide important information about the heart and the surrounding blood vessels supplyingit.

This can help to diagnose heart conditions, plan future treatments and carry out certain procedures.

The heart has four chambers: the two small chambers at the top are called atria and the two larger chambers at the bottom are called ventricles. Each ventricle has two valves to control the flow of blood in and out of the ventricle.

Usingcardiac catheterisation, your cardiologist (heart specialist) can tell how well your heart valves andchambers are working. The procedure can alsoprovide important information about the blood pressure inside your heart.

Coronary angiography alsogives video images (angiograms) that can showwhether the blood vessels surrounding yourheart are narrowed or blocked. You may need treatment if there are any narrow areas or blockages.

Diagnosing heartconditions

Cardiac catheterisation and coronary angiography can be used to help diagnose a number of heart conditions, including:

  • coronary heart disease (CHD) wherea build-up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries (the arteries that supply blood to the heart) affects the heart's blood supply; CHD cancauseheart attacks and angina
  • heart attacks serious medical emergencies where the heart's blood supply is suddenly blocked, usually by a blood clot
  • angina a dull, heavy or tight chest pain caused by a restriction in the heart's blood supply
  • congenital heart disease in childrena range of birth defects that affect the normal workings of the heart
  • valvular heart diseaseproblems with the function of one or more of the four valves within your heart
  • cardiomyopathy diseases of the heart muscle, whichare sometimes inherited

Treating heart problems

Coronary angiography is also used before or during certain treatments. For example, it may be used if you need to have:

  • a coronary angioplasty or percutaneous coronary intervention a procedure to widen blocked or narrowed coronary arteries
  • a coronary artery bypass graft surgery to divert blood around narrow or clogged arteries and improve blood flow to the heart
  • heart valve surgery an operation to repair or replacethe heart valves
Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 28 Nov 2016