Common Angioplasty Risks You Should Watch Out For

It is important for you to know the different angioplasty risks you can face, as this is the case with all medical procedures that involve invasive intervention.

Angioplasty helps in restoring the blood flow to certain parts of the body, and this process involves the surgical correction of defects like narrowing or blockages in the arteries with the use of stents (wire meshes) and balloons.

It should be noted that the benefits of the angioplasty procedure outweigh the risks and complications. If you have been advised coronary (heart) angioplasty, here are a few risks that you would be susceptible to.

angioplasty risks

Angioplasty risks are often indicated by chest pain and swelling in the site of catheter insertion.

The Two Types Of Angioplasty Risks

Angioplasty risks are of two types: 

  • Delayed Complications, which occur a few months after the angioplasty
  • Acute Complications, which occur during the procedure or immediately after the procedure

Angioplasty Risks During The Procedure

  • Allergic Reaction: You may face an allergic reaction to the radiographic dye (also known as radio-contrast dye), which is used for visualising the blood vessels during an angioplasty. The symptoms of an allergy are itching, restlessness, apprehension, sweating, an increase in body temperature, and a rapid pulse rate.
  • Blood Vessel Damage: This might be caused when the blood vessels are penetrated with the catheter. Bleeding at the place where the catheter is inserted is also common.
  • Arrhythmia: Due to the procedure, you might face an irregularity in your heartbeat, also called arrhythmia.
  • Chest Pain: This is a risk that you might face if the balloon blocks the blood vessel and cuts the supply of blood to the heart.
  • Heart Attack: This happens in 3-5 % of the cases, and it may occur due to the abrupt closure of the coronary artery. This stops the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart. The death rate in such cases is very low (around 0.1 %), and emergency surgery during the procedure is required in less than 3% of subjects, if a mishap occurs.
  • Kidney Damage: The radiographic dye that’s injected into the blood may damage the kidneys. Patients of prolonged kidney diseases especially face this risk.
  • Stroke: This occurs in less than 1% of the cases. Blood clots might form in the blood vessel due to the stent (a wire mesh used to repair the vessel), and these may move to the brain, causing a stroke.

Angioplasty Risks After The Procedure

Complications Due To Stents

Re-stenosis, a condition under which the artery gets blocked again due to the development of excessive tissues, is a complication caused by stents. This excessive tissue growth occludes the lumen and reduces the blood flow, and it might take weeks or even months to occur. Re-stenosis has been reported in around 15% of the cases, when stents are used. It should be noted that 30% of the patients develop re-stenosis even without the stents.

Radiation Risk

Patients also face a risk due to exposure to radiation. The use of X-rays for visualising the blood vessels during an angioplasty may cause these side effects. To counter this, doctors only use acceptable levels of X-rays.

Are You Prone To Angioplasty Risks?

You are prone to complications if you:

  • Have multiple blockages in the coronary arteries
  • Are aged 65 or above
  • Are in shock due to severe loss of blood from the body
  • Have prolonged kidney disease

How Can You Identify Angioplasty Risks?

The following signs should warn you of an underlying complication:

  • Chest pain that crops up days/weeks/months after the procedure
  • Redness, oozing, swelling, or pain at the site of catheter insertion

In such cases, you should contact your doctor immediately. To minimize the risk of complications, you must talk to your doctor if:

  • You are already on any medication
  • You have had an allergic reaction to any substance

It is easy to protect yourself from angioplasty risks once you know what to expect, and follow the instructions of your doctor. Post surgery care is equally important for successful angioplasty recovery.


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