coronary angiogram, often also termed a cardiac catheterization, angio, or heart cath is best described as a special x-ray of the heart and its arteries.  The test is commonly done to see if artery(s) in the heart are narrowed.  Other reasons to administer this test include seeing how the valves in the heart open and close, measuring the pressures in the heart, and observing how the heart muscle is pumping.  This test is a diagnostic procedure, not a form of treatment for heart problems.


Pre Test Procedures

  1. A blood test will be performed as well as an electrical tracing of the heart (EKG)
  2. A nurse will ask you questions about yourself, including what pills you are taking, any allergies, as well as any pills to take prior to the test.  Questions about the test will also be answered by a nurse.  If you have diabetes, the nurse will direct you regarding your medications/insulin.
  3. Right before the angiogram, your groin/wrist may be used for the test.  Your right groin will be shaved or clipped by the staff.

Test Procedures

  1. A needle will be inserted into a blood vessel to give any fluids or drugs (intravenous).
  2. You will then be escorted to the testing room and meet the heart doctor (Cardiologist), where him/her will explain the risks and benefits of the test, answer any questions and ask you to sign a consent form. 
  3. During the angiogram, you will be awake, but a drug will be given to help you relax.  Freezing, local anesthetic will be applied to the groin/wrist area to numb the area.  Pressure may be felt where the needle was inserted and please notify the doctor or nurse if discomfort is experienced.  At some point, a warm feeling may be felt which is normal and will last only a few seconds.
  4. A tube called a catheter is put in an artery (blood vessel) in the groin or wrist, and once the tube’s end is in the heart, x-ray dye is used to take pictures of the heart.

Post Test Procedures

  1. Right after the test, you will be taken to a recovery area where the tube in your groin or wrist is removed. Firm pressure will be applied to stop the bleeding. A band-aid will be placed on the site of the tube.
  2. Upon returning to your room, you will be on bed rest for a period of time, and your nurse will let you know when you can get up. The nurse will check on you often, and please inform the nurse if any pain, swelling or discomfort arises at your groin/wrist site.
  3. Do not bend your hip, leg or wrist on the side of your test.
  4. Someone will help you the first time you get out of bed and a snack will be provided.
  5. You may go home after you have been up walking.
  6. The doctor will review the pictures and discuss the results with you.  Findings may include that the heart is working normally, working abnormally where arteries in the heart may be narrowed, a valve may not be opening and/or closing properly, or the heart muscle is not pumping effectively.  
  7. Treatment methods will be discussed, which may include:
    • Taking heart pills and making lifestyle changes
    • Coronary angioplasty/stent and making life style changes, taking heart pills
    • Heart surgery (may include heart by-pass or valve surgery) and making lifestyle changes and taking heart pills

Patient Instruction

Several preparatory measures must be followed prior to the test.  Read the following bullets carefully:


  • Arrange for a ride home from the hospital.  You cannot drive yourself home.  If you live more than 1.5 hours away from Winnipeg, you will need to stay in the city overnight.  If staying overnight, arrange for someone to stay with you.  If no one can stay with you, notify the Heart Cath Lab Slating office at (204) 237-2334.
  • Tell family members and visitors that visiting is limited to one person at the bedside at a time for 10 minutes.

What to Bring/Not to Bring

  • Bring your Manitoba Health Card.
  • Bring your pills in their original bottles with you as given by the pharmacy, and take your pills as directed by the Nurse in the Cardiac Clinic.
  • Bring a pair of slippers, housecoat, toiletries and something to read.
  • Bring a cell phone number(s) of an emergency contact person.
  • Do not bring any valuables (including money and jewelry).  The hospital is not responsible for the loss or damage of such items.
  • Ensure you and your visitors do not use scented products (talcum, lotion, perfume, cologne, aftershave, etc.). 

Mandatory Pre Test Measures

  • Do not eat or drink anything after midnight unless the nurse has told you it is alright.  Eating and drinking can not resume until after the test.
  • Take your heart pills with sips of water and do not take your water pills.
  • Remove nail polish and do not apply makeup. 
  • You may shower and brush your teeth the morning of your test.
  • Cell phones may be on, but set on vibrate, with calls answered outside of the unit.

Additional Info

Cardiac Rehabilitation 
Cardiac Rehabilitation programs offer education and support to patients who have heart disease.  Depending on your angiogram results, you may be contacted by staff members from a cardiac rehabilitation program informing you of their services to improve your heart health.  

Cancelling Appointment: Please notify the heart cath lab slating office at (204) 237-2334.

Living Well with Heart Disease: A guide for people with coronary artery disease

A Guide for Patients and Families (English)
A Guide for Patients and Families (French)

Discharge Information after a Coronary Angiogram or Angioplasty (English)
Discharge Information after a Coronary Angiogram or Angioplasty (French)

VIDEO: A Guide to Coronary Angiogram and Angioplasty (English)
VIDEO: A Guide to Coronary Angiogram and Angioplasty (French)

Temporary Directions to Y2 Bergen Cardiac Care Centre