You will get medicine before the test to help you relax. The health care provider will clean a site on your arm, neck, or groin and insert a line into one of your veins. This is called an intravenous (IV) line. A larger thin plastic tube called a sheath is placed into a vein or artery in your leg or arm. Then longer plastic tubes called catheters are carefully moved up into the heart using live x-rays as a guide. Then the doctor can: Collect blood samples from the heart Measure pressure and blood flow in the heart's chambers and in the large arteries around the heart Measure the oxygen in different parts of your heart Examine the arteries of the heart Perform a biopsy on the heart muscle For some procedures, you may be injected with a dye that helps your doctor to visualize the structures and vessels within the heart. The test may last 30 - 60 minutes. If you also need special procedures, the test may take longer. If the catheter is placed in your groin, you will often be asked to lie flat on your back for a few to several hours after the test to avoid bleeding.
If you have coronary heart disease, the arteries in your heart are narrowed or blocked by a sticky material called plaque. Angioplasty is a procedure to restore blood flow through the artery. You have angioplasty in a hospital. The doctor threads a thin tube through a blood vessel in the arm or groin up to the involved site in the artery. The tube has a tiny balloon on the end. When the tube is in place, the doctor inflates the balloon to push the plaque outward against the wall of the artery. This widens the artery and restores blood flow. Doctors may use angioplasty to Reduce chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart Minimize damage to heart muscle from a heart attack Many people go home the day after angioplasty, and are able to return to work within a week of coming home.
Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood away from your heart to other parts of your body. Doctors also may place stents in weak arteries to improve blood flow and help prevent the arteries from bursting. When a stent is placed into the body, the procedure is called stenting. There are different kinds of stents. Most are made of a metal or plastic mesh-like material. Fabric stents, also called stent grafts, are used in larger arteries. Some stents are coated with medicine that is slowly and continuously released into the artery. These stents are called drug-eluting stents. The medicine helps prevent the artery from becoming blocked again.