Coronary angioplasty is a common medical procedure. Serious complications don't occur often. However, they can happen no matter how careful your doctor is or how well he or she does the procedure.
Angioplasty complications can include:
Sometimes chest pain can occur during angioplasty because the balloon briefly blocks blood supply to the heart.
As with any procedure involving the heart, complications can sometimes be fatal. However, this is rare with coronary angioplasty. Less than 2 percent of people die during the procedure.
The risk of complications is higher in:
Research on angioplasty is ongoing to make it safer and more effective and to prevent treated arteries from narrowing again.
Another problem that can occur after angioplasty is too much tissue growth within the treated portion of the artery. This can cause the artery to become narrow or blocked again, often within 6 months. This complication is called restenosis (RE-sten-o-sis).
When a stent (small mesh tube) isn't used during angioplasty, 30 percent of people have restenosis. When a stent is used, 15 percent of people have restenosis.
Stents coated with medicine (drug-eluting stents) reduce the growth of scar tissue around the stent. These stents further reduce the risk of restenosis. When these stents are used, about 10 percent of people have restenosis.
Other treatments, such as radiation, can help prevent tissue growth within a stent. For this procedure, a wire is put through a catheter to where the stent is placed. The wire releases radiation to stop any tissue growth that may block the artery.
Studies suggest that there's a higher risk of blood clots forming in medicine-coated stents compared with bare metal stents. However, no firm evidence shows that these stents increase the chance of having a heart attack or dying if used as recommended. Researchers continue to study medicine-coated stents.
Taking medicine as prescribed by your doctor can lower your risk of blood clots. People who have medicine-coated stents usually are advised to take antiplatelet medicines, such as clopidogrel and aspirin, for up to a year or longer.
As with all procedures, you should talk with your doctor about your treatment options, including the risks and benefits.
Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. To find clinical trials that are currently underway for Coronary Angioplasty, visit www.clinicaltrials.gov.
When a heart attack happens, any delays in treatment can be deadly.
Knowing the warning symptoms of a heart attack and how to take action can save your life or someone else’s.
The NHLBI has created a new series of informative, easy-to-read heart attack materials to help the public better understand the facts about heart attacks and how to act fast to save a life.
Click the links to download or order the NHLBI's new heart attack materials:
“Don’t Take a Chance With a Heart Attack: Know the Facts and Act Fast” (also available in Spanish)
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