RisksBy Mayo Clinic staff
Although angioplasty is a less invasive way to open clogged arteries, the procedure still carries some risks.
The most common angioplasty risks include:
- Re-narrowing of your artery (restenosis). With angioplasty alone — without stent placement — restenosis happens in as many as 30 to 40 percent of cases. Stents were developed to reduce restenosis. The original bare-metal stents reduce the chance of restenosis to less than 20 percent, and the use of drug-eluting stents has reduced the risk to less than 10 percent.
- Blood clots. Blood clots can form within stents even weeks or months after angioplasty. These clots may cause a heart attack. It's important to take aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix) and other medications exactly as prescribed to decrease the chance of clots forming in your stent. Talk to your doctor about how long you'll need to take these medications and whether they can be discontinued if you need surgery.
- Bleeding. You may have bleeding at the site in your leg or arm where a catheter was inserted. Usually this simply results in a bruise, but sometimes serious bleeding occurs and may require blood transfusion or surgical procedures.
Other rare risks of angioplasty include:
- Heart attack. Though rare, you may have a heart attack during the procedure.
- Coronary artery damage. Your coronary artery may be torn or ruptured (dissected) during the procedure. These complications may require emergency bypass surgery.
- Kidney problems. The dye used during angioplasty and stent placement can cause kidney damage, especially in people who already have kidney problems. If you're at increased risk, your doctor may give you a medication to try to protect your kidneys.
- Stroke. During angioplasty, blood clots that may form on the catheters can break loose and travel to your brain. Blood thinners are given during the procedure to reduce this risk. A stroke can also occur if plaques in your heart break loose when the catheters are being threaded through the aorta.
- Abnormal heart rhythms. You heart may get irritated during the procedure and beat too quickly or too slowly. These heart rhythm problems are usually short-lived, but sometimes medications or a temporary pacemaker is needed.
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