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If you experience chest pain, palpitations, or shortness of breath, you may have a blocked artery. If left untreated, this problem can lead to heart attacks and strokes. At Commonwealth Vein Center in Colonial Heights, Virginia, blocked arteries and other cardiovascular conditions can be diagnosed with angiography. Read on to learn more about this minimally invasive test.

What are the symptoms of blocked arteries?
Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood to your legs, arms, and other parts of your body. When your arteries are healthy, your blood will flow more evenly throughout your body.

Unfortunately, plaque can build up in the arteries and impair blood flow. There are several warning signs that indicate a blocked artery.

Transient ischemic attack
A blockage in an artery can lead to a transient ischemic attack, also known as a TIA. This type of attack can indicate that your blood vessels are blocked and can cause a stroke in the future.

A TIA can cause you to slur your speech or feel weak on one side of your body. Additionally, you may have difficulty moving your legs and arms. You may also experience partial vision loss.

Chest pain
Chest pain, also known as angina, can be a warning sign of plaque buildup in the arteries near the heart. This pain is a sign that your heart is not getting enough blood.

Foot and leg problems
When the veins in your legs, feet, and other limbs become blocked, you can experience a number of problems. For example, you may experience foot pain or cold feet. In addition, foot injuries take longer to heal.

Other symptoms
Arterial blockage can cause leg and foot pain as well as dizziness, weakness, and palpitations. You may also experience sweating, nausea, and difficulty breathing.

Address your symptoms
If you experience chest pains, cold feet, or blocked arteries, don’t ignore your symptoms. Getting a diagnosis can improve your health and reduce your risk of stroke and heart attack.

At Commonwealth Vein Center, we can use a variety of tests to examine your arteries and determine the cause of your symptoms. For example, angiography is a minimally invasive test that allows the diagnosis of many different cardiovascular diseases.

How does an angiogram work?
This diagnostic test uses special technology to create images of the arteries and heart. We will begin your angiogram by gently inserting a small tube into one of your arteries. This tube, called a catheter, allows a special contrast agent to be passed into your artery.

Usually, blood vessels cannot be seen on X-rays. However, this special dye allows us to create an X-ray image of your arteries. By watching the dye move through your blood vessels, it can create a detailed picture of any damage to the heart or blood vessels. We will use these images to determine if you have blocked blood vessels or other health problems.

What health problems can this test be used to diagnose?
We can use this imaging test to diagnose various disorders of the cardiovascular system.

Coronary atherosclerosis
Coronary atherosclerosis, or coronary artery disease, occurs when plaque, fat, and other materials build up in the walls of the arteries that supply blood to the heart. As these substances build up in your arteries, your arteries narrow. As a result, your blood flow is completely or partially blocked.

An aneurysm occurs when your blood pressure bulges the wall of one of your arteries. Aneurysms usually occur in the arteries of the stomach and chest. If you don’t treat an aneurysm, it can lead to stroke or bleeding or clotting problems.

Pulmonary embolism
A pulmonary embolism is a blockage in an artery that affects blood flow to the lungs. In most cases, this problem occurs when a blood clot blocks blood flow in one or more of the pulmonary arteries.

Other conditions
In addition to the diseases listed above, we can use this imaging test to diagnose heart conditions that you have had since birth. We can also use this test to analyze arteries and prepare them for medical procedures.

How should I prepare for the exam?
Before we perform your imaging analysis, you will have an initial meeting with us. During this appointment, you should tell us about any prescription, over-the-counter medications, or supplements you are taking because these substances may change how your body reacts to the test. In some cases, we may tell you to stop taking certain medications before the test.

In addition to changing your medication schedule, you may need blood tests before your appointment.

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