Angioplasty is a medical procedure in which a small balloon is inserted into a clogged artery, and then inflated in order to widen the artery. An artery is a vessel that distributes blood from the heart throughout the rest of the body and if it is clogged, it can result in a lack of blood flow and prevent the heart from functioning properly. The procedure is generally performed to treat a condition known as atherosclerosis, in which plaque from excessive amounts of cholesterol builds up in the blood. Although it is not as invasive as other heart disease treatment options, there are some common angioplasty risks that can occur.
One of the most common angioplasty risks that can occur after the procedure is excessive bleeding. This bleeding will generally develop at the location of the insertion of the catheter, a thin tube used during the surgery to drain away fluid. Catheters are usually inserted in the arm or leg and normally tend to only cause bruising. Some patients may also experience sudden or uncontrollable bleeding in the area and may need a blood transfusion to replace the blood that was lost.
A condition known as restenosis is another one of the possible angioplasty risks. Restenosis occurs when the arteries becoming narrowed again after they were widened during the angioplasty procedure. To prevent the possibility of restenosis after angioplasty, a mesh tube called a stent may be used during the procedure to keep the artery open. Angioplasty that uses a stent during the procedure will generally tend to have a lower risk of restenosis occurring afterward.
Since a surgeon is working so closely to the heart during the procedure, damage to a coronary artery is one of the most dangerous angioplasty risks. Most arteries supply the rest of the body with blood from the heart, but a coronary artery is one of the major blood vessels that actually provides the heart with its own supply of blood. In some cases, a coronary artery can tear or otherwise become damaged during the angioplasty procedure. If this occurs, a person can quickly lose blood supply to the heart, so emergency surgery to repair the coronary artery is generally performed immediately to prevent fatality.
There are also some other dangerous angioplasty risks that tend to be much rarer. Angioplasty may put a person at a higher risk of developing kidney damage because of dye that is injected into the body to allow surgeons to see the arteries more clearly during the procedure. Abnormal heartbeat, stroke, or heart attack may also rarely occur during or after angioplasty.