If your doctor thinks you might have a blockage, narrowing or occlusion in your veins or arteries, he may schedule you an angiogram. It's a procedure that takes pictures of your blood vessels from the inside, allowing physicians to look for problems with your blood flow. If you've got an angiogram coming up, here's how you can prepare.
Be informed. Before you go in for the angiogram, make sure that you understand the process that you'll be going through. Your doctor should lay out the test for you. But ask any questions you may have. In general, the test determines whether any of your veins or arteries have restricted blood flow. It takes a few hours, and you'll be home that evening (albeit a little groggy) assuming everything goes well.
Inform your doctor about your current medical conditions. If your doctor isn't already aware, let him know about any other conditions or allergies that you may have, especially if you're allergic to any type of medication that the hospital may need to use on you during your angiogram. Specifically, those with iodine allergies, shellfish allergies or contrast media allergies need to let their doctors know before an angiogram so alterations to the procedure can be made. As well, if this isn't the first time that you've had this procedure done, be sure to relay any problems or side effects that you had with the last procedure.
Go over the consent form. Prior to your angiogram, you will need to sign a consent form. This acknowledges that you are aware of the possibility of complications and side effects as a result of the angiogram. Discuss these possibilities at length with your doctor before you give written consent for the procedure.
Make sure your nails are clean. During the angiogram, your circulation will constantly be monitored. And often, nurses prefer to check your circulation in your nail beds. To make this easier and more sanitary, clean your nails thoroughly before the angiogram. Remove any nail polish and trim your nails to a reasonable length. You don't want anything - dirt or nails - to interfere with the angiogram procedure.
Also take off any jewelry and leave it at home so you don't risk losing it while you're at the hospital.
Stop eating. Around 8:00 p.m. the night before your angiogram, your doctor will request that you stop eating. So don't have anything to eat or drink after this time. (Your stomach needs to be empty.)
Get a good night's rest. Although your mind will probably be racing the night before your angiogram, try to get some rest. You'll need all the energy you can get on the following day, so don't do anything too vigorous that evening and go to bed early.
Get a ride. On the morning of your angiogram, ensure that you have your spouse or support person there with you. In fact, ask this person to drive you to and from the hospital. After the angiogram, you may feel a bit dizzy or lightheaded, and this certainly isn't a good state to be driving in. Have a friend or family member be your chauffeur. You'll appreciate being able to rest on the ride home after your angiogram.