What is it?
CT coronary angiography (CTCA) is a non-invasive diagnostic test that uses X-rays and advanced imaging technology to create detailed images of the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart. This test can help to diagnose and evaluate coronary artery disease (blockages and narrowing of the arteries). This test may also be used for patients with aortic valve disease or other structural heart conditions.
During a CTCA, a special type of X-ray machine is used to create detailed images of the heart and coronary arteries. This test does not require the use of any catheters or invasive procedures, making it a safe and effective alternative to traditional invasive coronary angiography.
Who is it for?
CTCA may be recommended for patients who have symptoms of heart disease, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or palpitations. It may also be recommended for patients with known heart disease who need to be evaluated for the effectiveness of their treatment or the progression of their condition.
Before undergoing CTCA, patients may need to undergo several tests, such as a physical exam, electrocardiogram (ECG), or blood tests, to ensure that they are healthy enough to undergo the test.
What to expect on the day?
On the day of the CTCA test, you will attend the clinic where the test will be performed. Before the test, you will receive instructions on how to prepare for the test, which may include taking medications the day prior and morning of the test.
During the test, you will lie down on an exam table and a technician will place ECG leads on your chest to monitor your heart rate. The technician will then administer a contrast dye through an IV to help highlight the blood vessels in the heart during the CT scan.
You will be asked to hold your breath for a short period of time while the CT machine takes images of the heart and coronary arteries. The entire test typically takes less than an hour.
After the test, you can usually return to normal activities immediately. However, they may need to avoid heavy lifting or strenuous exercise for a short period of time as the medication used to slow your heart rate wears off over a few hours.
Overall, CTCA is a safe and effective diagnostic test that can help to diagnose and evaluate a wide range of heart conditions.