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British Heart Foundation
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Scared about upcoming angiogram

I’m 64 and just found out that my total cholesterol is 7.4. I’m scheduled for an angiogram on Saturday and I’m terrified. I’ve been reading so much on the Internet—a big mistake, I know, but it’s hard to resist when you know so little about what’s going on.

Both my parents had heart attacks, and my dad had stable angina from 44. His heart attack was in his late 70s. My mother’s was also in her 70s. They died from other causes, not heart disease.

My head is all over the place. I’ve read that stents don’t help increase life expectancy, that statins can damage your liver—I took them for a while some years ago but suffered from terrible muscle aches. My doctor wants to put me on Lipitor. She says that because my cholesterol is inherited, it might not even go down that much.

Aside from everything that scares me, I’m worried that I won’t be able to travel because I won’t be able to get insurance.

I really admire the many people on this board who have or are going through such trials with their heart disease, and have done so for years. You are a beacon for us all.

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I have had 3 angiograms, years ago, and never had any problems. I believe that the procedure has been improved these days, e.g. smaller camera and hole. The staff are doing angiograms all the time and know what they are doing. You will be fine. Relax!

Worrying will not help, it might even put your cholesterol up!

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Afternoon, welcome to the forum. As many of our members now say, keep away from Dr Google, its a very scary place.

There isn't any certainty about heart disease, yes may be hereditary, might be diet, might be family history of cholesterol, might be that huge hand they used in the national lottery adverts a while back 'Its you'.

Science, research is advancing all the time, angiograms, whilst carrying risks, carry these risks in the best place to be, a hospital.

Statins, like most other meds have alternatives, if one doesn't agree try another, there are threads on here about their usefulness as well.

You'll be able to get insurance to travel, it will cost more, more risk to the insurance company so you pay that much more, sorry but it happens.

Please tell us your story, let us know how you get on, share your experiences, its much less scary with others to share, a bit like a ghost story in company.

Take care, good luck with the angiogram, rest for two day post this please, I have another on Friday, maybe we can compare notes

Mark

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Thank you, jimmyq and squid112, for your replies. I'm always telling my sister to stay away from Dr. Google but it turns out that I'm just as bad as she is!

I will post an update on Saturday after my angiogram. I hope yours goes well, skid112.

Jane

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Perhaps I should have stayed away from this post if indeed my stents will not increase my life expectancy??

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Hi there Nathan, the last study was somewhat flawed, 200 people is hardly a huge group and a treadmill test is also very subjective, no allowance for other health or weight issues or fitness levels. Stents nowadays are not just put in as a matter of course if it's decided meds will do as well thats the usual course

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Thanks but I was just being a a little mischievous about what you read on the internet!

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Haha

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There is a lot of flawed research about so be wary of what you read. If you have narrowed arteries depending on the extent you could be treated by medication alone or medication plus stents/bypass. I am on the list for a multiple bypass. However for all of these to work you as also need to adopt the lifestyle changes, e.g. reduce to/maintain a normal BMI, maintain heathy cholesterol levels and BP (drugs may be required), eat a healthy diet, quit smoking and exercise. Also treatment is not just about extending life it is also aimed at improving the quality of life. Currently I cannot walk any distance at all and have minimal energy.

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Hi Nathan like me your scared

I can only say I have read I am sure the same stuff and all we can do is try to change our life style

As said I’ve started brief aerobic excersize 1/2 hour five days a week got one of those heart monitor watches n get my Pulse up to 145 keep it there for 1/2 hour

Started eating veg n fish. Not using any dairy products

Drinking lemon juice etc it seems to be working for the minute as I’ve lost a stone 1/2

I honestly think it’s the crap we put in us and the stress of daily living coupled with some hereditary accepts but I’m hopeful what I’m doing is working for me. Let me know how you get in I am happy to send you my day planners

Regards

Francis

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I agree with Skid 112. I also was terrified. However if you tell the team of your concerns they will. give you a relaxitive. It was all over before I realised. The forum is good. All the best. PhilGarner

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Hi,gbtbag. The Angio thing is scary for us patients as it is unfamiliar with uncertain outcomes. In my experience, although there are risks which you will be advised of , these are more than outweighed by the positives. And it is a quick and painless process. Just some unfamiliar sensations. But the hospital team talk you through the process so there are no unexpected surprises and recovery for me was precautionary rather than it being in any way debilitating. You will be in expert hands in a routine procedure so just try to relax - it will be over before you know it

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Thank you, everyone, for your encouraging words and advice.

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Nathan this is my first reply on this forum. I had angioplasty for angina just 3 weeks ago !!! I was nervous too and Google just worried me even more.

The procedure went well and the difference in my health very noticable especially during the recent cold snap that would have stopped me in my tracks.

Stay upbeat, stay on this brilliant forum , you're doing all the right things.

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Hi and welcome to the club 🙂

I had several HAs one night in December last year. Was a 'hot' patient for Angiogram and angioplasty. Had stents fitted into blocked circumflex. The good points were done under local and I could watch, scar is less than 3mm on my wrist and I have to say I felt better immediately. Yes there are downsides, I'm back on statins which I do not tolerate well, but only 10mg Avorastatin, and i take far more tablets than before, however my life has improved immensley, I am far more conscious of my lifestyle and am making changes little by little. Yes insurance costs more, I use Staysure, who are reasonable and the further away you are from the event the better the price it seems.

I know its difficult but hopefully you'll sail through the angiogram just fine and will see improvements. I wish you well and please let us know how you get on. Good Luck

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Hi just read all your lovely replies on here people are so helpful and kind . I just wanted to add I had angiogram in Nov 16 and it was interesting to watch on screen once the tube was inserted ( which was just like having a blood test done stings a little) then no pain at all and over in no time. Try not to worry . X

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Morning I had one 2 weeks ago my 2nd one in 3 years .when I say there is no pain there really is no pain the strangest thing was the dye felt it through my shoulder you will have a good supportive team in with you plus get a nice cup of tea in recovery area.keep off google people like to scare monger .you will be fine I would rather have ten of them than one filling atvthe dentist.

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You are going through the most worrying stage not knowing what is the condition of your cardiovascular system. The Angiogram is the only way of finding out and then the experts being able to help you resolve the problems. I have had 3 angiograms over the last 14 years but eventually a bypass too. I now control my cholesterol and health by diet alone and take no meds apart from aspirin. I now live worry free, and you will too once you have it all under control. The angiogram is a very simple and easy procedure and they may stemt at same time, in my case they were unable to stent so I had to have the bypass some months later. I too did lots of research and subnet want the bypass, wanted to control by diet alone, but was persuaded by both GP and cardiologist to have the bypass and change diet too - so best o both worlds.

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I had my angiogram the other week.

I was very impressed with the number of people involved and how painless it all was. Here's what happened to me, which I hope helps lessen your fears. After being attempted the nurses took all my measurements, which included marking my pulse in my feet. Being a bloke they shaved my forearm and my groin as these are the two possible entry points. When they were ready for the procedure I was wheeled into the operating theatre where I had to change beds. In the operating theatre the was a bed, loads of PC monitors and a huge X-Ray arm thingy. A whole bunch of nurses and other people then ridged me up to all the equipment and I could see the monitors. The surgeon talked me through the whole procedure in order to give me reassurance. He gave my a small jab to numb my forearm. After a few minutes he asked whether I wanted any pain killer, which I don't, but he gave me a little just to calm my nerves. It felt like having a shot of whisky, but nothing more than that. He then started the procedure and I just laid back tried to keep myself relaxed. Sometimes I looked at the monitors, sometimes I didn't. During the the procedure the X-Ray arm thingy moves close to you chest and I was amazed by the pin-point accuracy. It's not like a CT or MRI scan as I don't feel claustrophobic at all. The procedure takes 30 mins or so and afterwards they put this blow-up wrist band on my arm. The wrist band has a blow-up pocket that's designed to put pressure on the incision. When I was back in the Ward every 15 mins the nurses took a bit of air out of the wrist band until it could be completely removed. That was about it. Obviously the Cardiologist came round and told me what they found, but as this is personal I don't think this aspect is relevant to you?

Any procedure isn't nice, but as it will provide your Cardiologists will all the information they need it's worth it (I think). I hope this helps?

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Hello there! It has been said before...leave Dr Google alone and use for looking for holidays ;) I know it's difficult to resist but sometimes it just adds to your worries. All I can say is that I too was taken aback when diagnosed with Angina and needed an angiogram. For me, the experience wasn't frightening, in fact, I lay watching the screen. As people have said on this forum, trust the professionals, they do this for a living! Your in very safe hands and you really need to know what's going on, if anything. I have three arteries narrowed in my heart but they were not right for stenting, so my condition is controlled by drugs. As for your cholesterol, mine was originally sitting at 11.1 but through trial and error of different statins is now controlled...for me the risk of statins is outweighed by the benefits. There are many different statins out there, one is bound to give you benefit without side affects.

Let us know how your angiogram goes, I'm sure you'll be absolutely fine, just trust the talented and skilled medics.

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I’m the biggest wimp there is and I got through one, honest it’s fine, everyone chats to you it’s just so routine to them, they were talking about cats 🐈 of all things through mine I found that very calming. Take care

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Thank you, everyone. I find your posts very reassuring.

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I can honestly say it's nothing to worry about, I've lost count of the amount of Angio's I've had and I' prefer that than going to the dentist. Good luck with the results and keep us all informed.

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Hi gbtbag,I can understand your worry,I have had 2 angiograms ,the first was done at a private hospital after something was found on an ECG.I was like you, worried out of my head.At the time I was having cognitive behaviour therapy for depression and she helped me with the worry of the procedure to come .Her best advice was to think of your most favourite place /thing ever,(mine was a beach I visit often when in Spain ,and my idea of paradise) really practice it loads beforehand so that you can do it easier when the time comes.But to be honest I didn't need it as I was in no pain whatsoever and became interested in looking at the monitors and screens of seeing the camera going up the artery and into my heart,(you don't have to look if you don't want to) you feel absolutely nothing apart from the sting from the local anaesthetic at the beginning ,and a warm feeling when they add dye contrast.This one was done through my groin,sounds scary ,but isn't.Recovery was immediate you just have to not lift anything heavy as it can loosen the plug they put in to stop bleeding,and you have to carry a card with you to say you had this in case of further possible surgery/accident .

The second one I had 4 weeks ago when I had a heart attack.I was in a lot of pain and was blue lighted to hospital and straight to theatre .I don't remember everything about it as I was given morphine in ambulance and gas and air and was high as a kite,but even under these circumstances the staff explained everything step by step.This time I had it done through my wrist.again I felt the local injection and after I felt some pressure through my arm ,I did have pain but that was due to the H.A. I had a stent fitted at same time and after there was no pain at all.Recovery is ongoing and there is still a lot I don't know but will be revealed hopefully at my cardio rehab appointment on the 28th March.

The other way to think of it is its about 15 mins of your life so not long at all and will soon be over and its better to know about the state of your arteries than be in ignorance and you may avoid having a H.A. Sorry for the long post but just wanted you to know how it was for me.Best of luck and please let us know how it went and you will then be able to help others on here going through same thing.

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I’m been on Satins since a kid. I did the Daniel plan a few years ago to improve my heart health and dr oz said in his teaching video for the Daniel plan that most doctors don’t wanna give satians but wen ppl won’t change they have no choice. I’ve had loads of amogorams and they are not nice but I coped.

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I had an angiogram in January and was terrified, just of having the procedure itself. I have to say it was nothing to worry about - I think the warnings of risk in the letter you get makes you more apprehensive! There was a lot of hanging about but procedure itself was quick and painless.

I realise however that it's your results your afraid of. I'd be the same, but everyone's heart conditions are different, so don't be scared. Once the docs know what shape you're in, the faster and better they can treat you.

Keep the chin up, wishing you well xx

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All these comments are so helpful. Thank you all for your kind thoughts.

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A further thought is that I recommend being compliant and following all the procedures and the NHS GP cardiolgist advice. I was on statins for 12 years but I was very happy with this. Once you know where you are following the Angiogram and things settle down then do your own research and make your own conclusions, but in the meantime the experts are doing what is best.

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Hey can I add to the comments quickly. To was petrified to have my angiogramme as I watch my mum going into that room two years ago ..i was scared stiff today! My 61st birthday I went and had a angiogramme this afternoon ..it was fine ,the star were awesome,the whole prep was a bit scary but they talked me through every stage there was no real pain ,just a bit of pressure wen they took it back out of my wrist .i got great news anf the consultant and his team burst into song at the end and sing happy birthday to me ...please don't be scared ,think happy thoughts and let them do the job they do very well . Regards Jax

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So I went for the angiogram yesterday but they gave me a CT angiogram with dye so I didn’t get to see what was going on on a screen. My heart rate was 116bpm because I was so anxious so they had to slow it down with a beta blocker. My cholesterol had also skyrocketed to 7.4, which is scary.

At the hospital, they said they’d know the results in two or three days, although I don’t know if i get them from my GP or the specialist who ordered the angiogram, whom I’ve never met.

I don’t know what make of the whole thing. If they see something, shouldn’t they call me right away rather than leave me walking around, hoping something awful won’t happen?

If they have concerns, it seems that the next stage is the kind of angiogram I thought I was getting yesterday. The nurse told me they like to do a CT angiogram first because it’s less invasive (as opposed to cheaper, which I thought must be the reason. But who knows?)

So...more waiting

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I was terrified also and found the lack of information scary

I am a 55 year old male who was diagnosed with arterialsclerosis

I have the stress enters angiogram ct scans 24 hour blood pressure test etc all a bit frightening

I had major grief from avastastatins and looked up alternatives

Have another chat with a more reasonable go I was put on medication which is not pertinent to my condition! Ie blood pressure tablets when my blood pressure after a 24 hour heart monitor test was fine.

I have Arteriolosclerosis but no narrowing of the arteries

Having talked this through with one of the good doctors in the surgery and changed my life style since July last year.

aerobic exercise 1/2 hour 5 days a week put myself on a non meat no dairy meal planner cut down dramatically with alcohol and taken artichoke juice daily my cholesterol has dropped to 3 and my gp has advised the consultant was over cautious and has taken me off all meds and reviews my bloods 6 monthly.

Look at dramatic real life changes that you can achieve I am sure at some stage I may be on meds but for the moment and with this life change I feel good and am pleased a little reading on the net and a good chat with a good gp has prevented me taking statins blood pressure tablets and aspirins

I have read and use an alternative blood thinner which is lemon juice mixed with apple cider vinegar garlic and ginger

I blend 5 whole lemons ( make sure you wash them thoroughly first ) large knuckle of ginger a whole bulb of garlic and a 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar with 3 litres of spring water drain it refrigerate it and drink a small amount several times a day usually an hour before meals

I also use artichoke tincture

( I get this from a herbalist doctor and pay £40 every three months )

I can’t say this works for everyone it’s not easy changing your life and sticking to the change and yes always listen to your gp, but it’s kept me off meds and I feel better for it.

Oh good veg recipes can be grabbed from the deliciously Ella blog or books this has made my transformation to veggie food easy and the food is ace.

If anyone knows of a support group in Southend on sea or other information about reducing artherialsclerosis please let me know

I hope this message is useful to others

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Try not to worry, go for the angiogram better to know than not, the sooner the better. Yes nowadays the procedure is much improved from years go. You can still travel , lots of people do. Very best wishes , you are not alone even if it feels tat way sometimes.

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I had one stent last year- after having 16 shocks, yes 16 to bring me back to life. I’m now living a near normal life. Miss the boozy weekends but otherwise life is normal. My friend had 4 stents at the age of 54, 10 years later and you wouldn’t know he ever had a heart problem. Please please don’t wait until you have a heart attack- that will weaken your heart muscles. Fear not, it’s totally painless and you can see on a giant screen what the dr is doing.

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Hi,

I was also worried while I was waiting on the ward for a week.

Really nervous! But now I've experienced it I truly feel much better; it's the not knowing that does it.

While I was in hospital, the Dr was seeing around 10 per day if not more.

Out patients as well as those waiting on the ward. It's easier than going to the dentist. I had a right chat on the recovery ward once I'd been in. One chap had 8 stents put in and he was as right as rain. In fact on seeing the rehabilitation nurse he had walked 5 miles to get there!!!!!

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