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Avatar universal

Any women go for an angiogram? Need reassurance...

I'm a 28 year old female, and I was just told I have suspected coronary artery disease. After a myriad of tests, angiogram (through the wrist) is my only option. I want to know about females here who have had angiograms and how they were. I'm actually petrified, and I'm supposed to go in two weeks.

I know the risks are relatively low, but they stand out so much in my mind that I need to have some positive feedback here to help alleviate some of my fears...

Thanks in advance!
26 Responses
237039 tn?1264261657
I myself, have had 10 caths. All through my groin.  The only complaint I have is having to lay flat for several hours.  My back can't take that. Plus the dye makes my kidneys ache along with my lower back.  They have to keep me on Morphine to ease that pain.  The last cath was last month. I was having a major heart attack and had 3 stents placed. I could feel them open the balloons.  I do not have any experience with one through my wrist, so I am not sure about that. You'll do fine and it is actually kind of thrilling to watch the monitor. Take care. You'll be fine!  Ally

PS. If I were told that I needed another one, I wouldn't hesitate one bit!
Avatar universal
I had only one (groin) .They didn’t even let me out from the hospital until I haven’t got one, they transferred me another hospital with emergency car. It went well. Do not worry; if you need it you need it. Trust in your doctor. You will get enough whatever they give, so it was like a normal thing less excitement than going to a dentist.:)
My Best!
Avatar universal
I've read that the angiogram through the wrist has a faster recovery period than the groin one.  I've had four via the groin.  If all goes well you will leave the hospital the same day as the test.  Have the doctors suggested what they expect to find and how they will treat it?  From my experience I would delay making a decision on future treatment after the angiogram so you can carefully weight the pros and cons.  I was too hasty to make a decision.
Avatar universal
The reason they`re doing this is because I`ve been having pretty bad shortness of breath upon mild exertion for the past 3 years (it literally started one day after going up a flight of stairs at school - the same flight of stairs that I had been doing for several years prior without a problem), and it never went away. After a myriad of tests, they found abnormalities on my EKG indicating ST-depressions. A myocardial perfusion scan showed potential blockage or lack of oxygenated blood at the front of my heart.

Given the high false-positive rate in females, I was told the only diagnostic tool was an angiogram. My cardiologist mentioned there`s a CT angiography as well, but if something needs to be stented, they can do that immediately with the angiogram, thus minimizing the need for more radiation.

The whole thing feels like a whirlwind - even though it`s taken 3 years to get here...
976897 tn?1379171202
My advice would be to have the intervention there and then if they find a blockage, especially in your LAD. You don't want to delay it, get home and have a heart attack wishing you'd had it done.
Avatar universal
Not female but had the angiogram thru the wrist..It was probably the easiest test I have been thru....If I hadnt been drugged a bit I could have gotten off the table and walked away...You will have a tight bracelet put on your wrist that will then be pressurised...The air pressure keeps the hole from bleeding...After about 4 or 5 hours they start to let the air out a little at a time....  It takes about 8 hours to let all the air out but you can walk around the whole time.......Have it done its worth it and over quickly....Good luck           ...Rich
976897 tn?1379171202
So it takes longer to stop the wrist area bleeding?  Thru the groin I've always been discharged 2-4 hours after the procedure.
976897 tn?1379171202
2 pieces of good advice.

About 10 mins before your procedure, empty your bladder. You will be glad you did. The dye can set your bladder into overdrive.

After the procedure, drink cup after cup of water. The quicker you get drinking, the sooner you flush the dye outta your blood.
774967 tn?1235510939
I've done groin...been there not doing that again!  Go for CT Angio! If there's a problem, discuss all of the options. If stent is needed, they can just wheel you into another room and begin the job.

The CT Angio is called 64 Slice. MUCH BETTER!
Avatar universal
See, now that's what I was afraid of. Is the CT angio about the same in terms of accuracy as the angiogram??

(It's funny how the mind works - hear/read one bad experience, and now I'm scared to do the angio).
Avatar universal

The CT angio will provide your calcium score - hard plaque as well as the soft plaque from the vessels revealed with the dye.  Procedure took two hours mostly prep work - 10 minutes in machine.. piece of cake...  More information with less trauma....
Avatar universal
You are so right:
“It’s funny how the mind works - hear/read one bad experience,..”  he might have bad experience, but he is here and posting to you. I also hope I won’t need it again, but if I did not get it 9 years ago, I might not be here today. I could have worried, thinking: what if…. Mine was OK, and it gave me a piece of mind, I am glad my cardiologist ordered me by saying: I must get that test. I never forget the doctor kind voice that did the procedure when she said:” beautiful! No blocked arteries “! She was a tall redhead young person.
Let me borrow a sentence from Ed, he said it well:

  “You don't want to delay it, get home and have a heart attack wishing you'd had it done.”

And they might give you orange juice not water, that what I got :), as Ed suggested: drink plenty!!
Good luck,and let us know!

Avatar universal


even peace of mind
Avatar universal
I had met with the interventionist who told me that he doesn't think he'll be stenting me or that I'll be diagnosed with CAD, but that they have to do this based on my ekg and nuclear stress test findings.

All things considered, it's really making me want the angio less and less, but then I'm worried if they actually do find something, then they have to radiate me again to do the angiogram. My cardiologist wanted me to go the route of the angiogram first rather than CT because he didn't want me exposed to high doses of radiation, and because if something was found, they could fix it right away.

Still super apprehensive. I feel like I want more information, but I don't want to waste any more time either. :(
774967 tn?1235510939
Both procedures, andiogram and CT angio uses radiation.  There are risks to consider with Non-CT Angio. For instance the catheter damaging your artery or loosening a piece of plaque lining the wall of the artery. If this happens then you will have big problems.

I will say this, most doc's will not tell you this, there have been people whom died from this invasive procedure. Not a single person had EVER died from CT Angio.

Why roll the dice?  You're young you can handle CT Angio.

The excuse that "since we're in the neighborhood we can fix the problem" is a sad excuse for performing a high risk procedure when there are safer options out there.

The medical profession is full of Oops! then it's published in medical journals every month warning doc's to "change their procedure/protocol".

For instance, my Doc wanted to increase my statin drug to maximum dosage. My instincts told me not to do it. I still took the prescription but failed to fill it. Two months latter, all over the news, a warning from the FDA that deaths have occurred from high dosages of statin drugs. That same day I received a call from the doc's office to come in for a new low dosage prescription and to halt taking my high dosage immediately.

My doc had read in a research journal, sponsored by pharma, that taking high dosages of statin yielded great results.

For those folks whom lost their lives, God rest their souls, this was an Oops!

Medicine has come a long way but procedures are still in "cave man" territory!

Take care.
976897 tn?1379171202
When I questioned my cardiologist about why he doesn't use ct angiography, he said that it isn't quite good enough for his liking 'yet'. For example, my last procedure involved 2 stents which would have not shown up on a ct antiogram. It took special tools in a standard angiogram to measure the flow rate and pressure down the artery, a sensor inside the artery did this, something a ct angiogram cannot do. He said that 64slice is actually getting old now, the 128 is far superior but even this doesn't give all the answers. An artery can look clear in a ct AND an angiogram, but it is known from a nuclear scan that there is a fault. Irregularities at cell level can cause turbulence and only a Fractional Flow Rate device will show this up by measuring the pressure at different points down the  artery.
So, what is the point in having a CT scan, to be told it looks great, when in fact the artery could be giving severe problems. The Angiogram is the gold standard and will remain to be so for a long time. CT is more of a quick screening solution but if people slip through the net, it isn't as good as people make out. If it's used to do a calcium score, this isn't accurate either. It will only detect hard calcified plaque, not soft uncalcified vulnerable plaques. This is why lots of african americans were being passed as having low calcium scores, yet their arteries were unknown to be full of vulnerable plaque. It appears calcium scoring isn't accurate for certain ethnic backgrounds.
976897 tn?1379171202
Just to add, the risks with angiogram are miniscule. It is so rare for heart attacks or stroke to occur. If a heart attack does occur, what better place to be? I had severe disease in 2 arteries, and I mean severe. I've had 8 procedures in one leg, and one in the other. I've never had any problem. If there is a problem in a procedure, it's more than likely going to be due to human error. All my procedures have been performed at a training/research hospital and a consultant is always in the room watching carefully. If he sees any possible cause for concern, he shouts STOP and takes over. I was told that to have my left artery cleared, I would be facing a 1 in 20 chance of death. A risk which nobody would accept. I was then approached by the man who inserted the first stent in the UK and used the first balloon here over 30 years ago. He said his risk factor would be 1%. I couldn't argue with that and 5 stents later I was off most of my medications.
Avatar universal
There are millions of angios done every year around the world..Many millions  .Most of us have fear of the unknown....Do all the research you can on the procedure and you will probably see that you have more of a chance of dying from  a million other things than you do an angio....I agree with Ed get it done. If they feel they wont be stenting as you have said then I certainly would want to know why they would want do do any test...
Avatar universal
Well I was told that the supervising doc who did my nuclear stress test noted that I am exhibiting signs of CAD on both the scan and the stress test ekg (and prior ekgs and stress tests also showed the same thing). And of course to go with that is my shortness of breath.

My interventionist said he doesn't think he'll be stenting me based on statistics - i.e. I'm a young woman, no family history of heart disease (that I know of), and none of the risk factors. But the only thing to determine that CAD is ruled out is to do an angiogram. And in the off chance that my tests were true positives, then they can deal with the issue right away.

I'm not overly comfortable with the idea either, yet I really, really want my life back. I can't do the stairs at home on a walk without my heart rate hitting 165 bpm.
Avatar universal
Try not to worry. I know, easier said than done. I hear the one through the wrist is a breeze. I did have a heart attack last year and they went through the groin to place the stent. It was not bad though. If I even need any other heart testing for the one through the wrist.
Have they checked you, or will they be checking you for MVP?
Avatar universal
I'm glad to hear a majority of the people here did not have a horrific experience with it. I'll have to try my best to cling to that. It is difficult though. :)

I've had an echo done and I was told structurally everything was okay, with the exception of a really minor mitral valve and tricuspid valve leak. They said that wouldn't be causing what I'm going through.

I really hope at the end of it all they don't find anything wrong with my arteries (or anything else cardiac for that matter). Yet by the same token, I really miss being able to exercise!
Avatar universal
So just an update for those who were interested - I had my angiogram on Tuesday, and everything went well. My arteries were also found to be clear, which was a *huge* relief to say the least.

Now I'm being tested for exercise-induced asthma, but at least the stress from the angiogram and the idea of a potential heart problem at the age of 28 is now gone. Will definitely not be taking my health for granted any time soon, that's for sure!

Thanks everyone for all your support. It truly meant a lot and helped me make it through Tuesday. :)
Avatar universal
Yay! That's great news. Thanks for letting us know everything went well. Can you please let us know about the asthma test? By the way, my Mom had an angiogram last Thursday and came through it just fine. Her 5th one and never a problem.
976897 tn?1379171202
Now you know that your coronary arteries are in great shape, something millions of people don't know. Isn't it good to know such things :)
Thank you for letting us know, great news.
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