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What Are the Risks of Cardiac Catheterization?

Cardiac catheterization is a common medical procedure. It rarely causes serious problems. However, complications can include:

  • Bleeding, infection, and pain at the catheter insertion site.
  • Damage to blood vessels. Rarely, the catheter may scrape or poke a hole in a blood vessel as it's threaded to the heart.
  • An allergic reaction to the dye that's used during coronary angiography.

Other, less common complications include:

  • Arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats). These irregular heartbeats often go away on their own. However, your doctor may recommend treatment if they persist.
  • Kidney damage caused by the dye used during coronary angiography.
  • Blood clots that can trigger a stroke, heart attack, or other serious problems.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • A buildup of blood or fluid in the sac that surrounds the heart. This fluid can prevent the heart from beating properly.

As with any procedure involving the heart, complications sometimes can be fatal. However, this is rare with cardiac catheterization.

The risks of cardiac catheterization are higher in people who are older and in those who have certain diseases or conditions (such as chronic kidney disease and diabetes).

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January 30, 2012