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Why they're used

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

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

The heart has 4 chambers: the 2 small chambers at the top are called atria and the 2 larger chambers at the bottom are called ventricles.

Each ventricle has 2 valves to control the flow of blood in and out of the ventricle.

Using cardiac catheterisation, your cardiologist (heart specialist) can tell how well your heart valves and chambers are working.

The procedure can also provide important information about the blood pressure inside your heart.

Coronary angiography also gives video images (angiograms) that can show whether the blood vessels surrounding your heart are narrowed or blocked.

You may need treatment if there are any narrow areas or blockages.

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

These include:

  • coronary heart disease (CHD) – where a build-up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries (the arteries that supply blood to the heart) affects the heart's blood supply; CHD can cause heart 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 children – a range of birth defects that affect the normal workings of the heart
  • valvular heart disease – problems with the function of 1 or more of the 4 valves within your heart
  • cardiomyopathy – diseases of the heart muscle, which are sometimes inherited

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 (CABG) – surgery to divert blood around narrow or clogged arteries and improve blood flow to the heart
  • heart valve surgery – an operation to repair or replace the heart valves