CTA or CT Angiogram 

What is a CTA or CT Angiogram and what is used to diagnose?


Before scheduling or arriving for you CTA 


Radiation Exposure

Tell your doctor if you’re pregnant or might be pregnant. Women should always tell their doctor and the technologist if they are pregnant or breastfeeding.

A CT coronary angiogram involves exposure to radiation. The amount of exposure varies.


Tell your doctor if you are allergic to contrast material

In certain cases, your doctor may recommend that you receive a special dye called contrast material. The contrast will be given through a vein in your arm. Although rare, the contrast material can cause an allergic reaction. Most reactions are mild and result in a rash or itchiness. In rare instances, an allergic reaction can be serious, even life-threatening. Tell your doctor if you’ve ever had a reaction to contrast material.


Food and Medications

Usually, the test requires not eating anything for about four hours before the test. Don't drink caffeinated beverages 12 hours before the test because they can increase the heart rate, making it difficult to get clear pictures of the heart.


Tell your health care provider about the medications that you take. You might be asked not to take a particular medication before the test.




What you can expect

The exam requires removing jewelry, glasses and clothing above the waist. You'll be asked to change into a hospital gown.


A CT coronary angiogram is usually done in the radiology department of a hospital or an outpatient imaging facility.


Before a CT coronary angiogram, you may receive a medication called a beta blocker to slow your heart rate. Doing so provides clearer images on the CT scan. Let your health care provider know if you've had side effects from beta blockers in the past.


You might also be given nitroglycerin to widen (dilate) your coronary arteries.



During the exam

A technologist or nurse will insert an IV into the hand or arm. The dye or contrast media flows through this IV. The dye helps blood vessels show up better on the CT images. You'll also have sticky patches called electrodes placed on your chest to record your heart rate.


You'll lie on a long table that slides through a short, tunnel-like machine (CT scanner).


During the scan you need to stay still and hold your breath as directed. Movement can cause blurry images.


A technologist operates the CT machine from a room that's separated from your exam room by a glass window. An intercom system allows you and the technologist to talk to each other.


Although the actual scanning portion of the test takes a few minutes, it may take up to an hour for the process to be completed.



After your CTA is completed, you can return to your normal daily activities. You should be able to drive yourself home or to work. Drink plenty of water to help flush the dye from your body.




Brighton’s board-certified radiologist studies your CTA and provides the results to your doctor.


If your test suggests that you have or are at risk of heart disease, you and your provider can discuss treatment options.


Regardless of the results of a CT coronary angiogram, it's always a good idea to make lifestyle changes to help protect the heart. Heart-healthy lifestyle changes include:


  • Exercise regularly.
    Exercise helps manage weight. It also helps control diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure all risk factors for heart disease.

    With your health care provider's OK, get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. If necessary, break activity into several 10-minute sessions a day.

  • Eat healthy foods.
    A heart-healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains and low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium can help control weight, blood pressure and cholesterol.

  • Stop smoking.
    Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease, especially atherosclerosis. If you smoke, quitting is the best way to reduce your risk of heart disease and its complications. If you need help quitting, ask your health care provider about smoking cessation methods.

  • Manage health conditions.
    For high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes, take medications as directed. Ask your provider how often you need follow-up visits.

  • Reduce stress.
    Stress can cause blood vessels to tighten (constrict), increasing the risk of a heart attack. Getting more exercise, practicing mindfulness and connecting with others in support groups are some ways to tame stress