Risks of this procedure
Angioplasty is not as invasive as other serious heart surgeries like coronary bypass surgery. However, like with any other surgical procedure, it has risks. Some of the most common risks are:
Recurrence of arterial blockages
Angioplasty, on being combined with drug-eluting stent placement does not prevent the same artery becoming clogged again. However, the risk of reappearance of blockage ranges between 10% and 20% when bare-metal stents have been used.
The risk of stroke may increase when plaques break loose while the catheter is threaded through the aorta. Blood clots can develop in the catheter and may reach the brain on breaking loose.
Blood thinners are used to control the risk of stroke, although it is a rare risk of coronary angioplasty.
Bleeding may occur in the arm or groin where the catheter was inserted. Bruising is a common side effect and bleeding occurs only in severe cases. However, blood transfusion may become necessary in case of severe bleeding.
Blood clots may appear within stents even after a coronary angioplasty surgery, making the arteries close down and causing a heart attack.
Doctors usually prescribe aspirin, along with other medications like clopidogrel (Plavix) or other similar drugs. This is to control the risk of blood clots developing in the stent.
Don’t stop or change the dosage of these medications without consulting your doctor.
Abnormal heart rate
Abnormal rhythms of the heart are not common but can happen during a coronary angioplasty. It gradually gets restored to normal within a short span of time. However, in severe cases, medications or a temporary pacemaker may become necessary.
In very rare cases, a heart attack may occur during a coronary angioplasty surgery in case an artery tears or ruptures. Under such emergencies, bypass surgery may become necessary.