My doctor would like me to have a coronary angiogram to evaluate my risk of heart disease. Is this a standard procedure everyone needs to assess heart disease risk?
An angiogram, or cardiac catheterization, is no doubt the "gold standard" for evaluating heart disease, but it is also the most invasive test a cardiologist might recommend for this purpose. It involves threading a catheter into an artery, all the way to the heart. A radio-opaque dye is then injected, which lights up the heart and illuminates any blockages around it. Ultimately, angiograms are expensive ($5,000 to $10,000) and usually not recommended unless preliminary tests strongly suggest the presence of coronary artery disease.