My Angiogram Experience

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For most of us, the unknown in any experience causes the most anxiety and fear and it is usually all a needless worry. But we do not know that beforehand so we worry away!

Anyway, I had my angiogram yesterday because the cardiologist was concegrned about an insufficiency of blood supply to the lower part of my heart. I want to share with you the experience so that those who may be anticipating the exam can be reassured that it is nothing to be feared.

My exam was scheduled for 1:00p.m. but they said to come early in case they could take me ahead of schedule. I was on nothing by mouth from midnight on, except was told to take an adult sized aspirin, in the morning, to prevent the platelets from clumping during the procedure.Sure enough, we were there waiting only about 1/2 hour and they called me in for the preparation which takes a while. I went into the room, at the United Heart and Vascular Clinic, on Smith and Chestnut in St.Paul, to be gowned and the preparation was begun. First they put an intravenous into the left arm, did some shaving of groin area, where they were to insert the catheter which goes to the heart.Various electrodes were placed on the body and I was then ready to be wheeled into the sterile angiogram room which looked like an operating room with all of the equipment and medical personal.

The room is always cold so they put warm blankets on me while they chatted to be reassuring. All monitors are watching the heart and an x-ray machine is held over the chest to watch as the procedure is underway. The nurse numbs the groin area and the small catheter is placed into the vein through which another smaller catheter is put and slowly threaded into the heart, where dye is injected to flow through all blood vessels to see if there is a blockage anywhere. Before they put the catheter into the body, I was given a sedative, intravenously, which was very relaxing . When the dye is injected, I was told it would produce a hot feeling in the body, which lasted only briefly. Before I knew it, the angiogram was over and happily, no blockages were found that required a stent. Back in recovery, the catheters are very slowly and carefully removed and the watching process begins.

The time spent in recovery was the longest because a person has to lie ,on the back and not moving head or legs for up to six hours, depending on how fast the groin area seals up, so as not to hemorrhage. A lot of pressure has to be put on the site to encourage a better seal. After the seal is set, and the small incision is covered with a band-aide and clear tape, and another hour passed, I was then gotten up to walk in the hall for about an hour to be sure there would be no bleeding problem. The friendly staff was very strict and careful about procedure and extended professional courtesy at all times.

Having the experience of an angiogram was my first invasive procedure in my 78 years and I can honestly say that it is not anything for a person to be worried about. Cardiologists and all medical personnel involved are skilled and compassionate people who take pride in doing their best for the patient.

Good health care is the goal of each of us but that means we also have to do our part and be aware of our own bodies and seek out doctors who share our concerns. We also have to build a relationship with them so we can feel free to communicate health issues and express all of our concerns and questions, so that they can better serve us. Healthy bodies and minds make for happy people.

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