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Risks of Angioplasty Procedures

written by: weborglodge • edited by: lrohner • updated: 12/24/2010

The risks of angioplasty show that any medical procedure carries a certain amount of uncertainty. However, with improvements in science and patient care, the angioplasty procedure is safer and less invasive than it was even a few years ago.

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    Use of Angioplasty

    heart-model The angioplasty procedure is a common way to treat blockages caused by plaque formation in the coronary arteries. Use of a balloon angioplasty and the placement of a stent via angioplasty is a less invasive way to treat this life-threatening condition. Like any medical procedure, there are health risks. Some risks include the angioplasty itself. Others are results as a result of the body's reaction to it.

    During the angioplasty procedure, a catheter is fed through an artery to the site of the narrowed blood vessel. A balloon-like device is inflated, opening up the blood vessel. A stent is often placed at the site for long-term protection.

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    During the Angioplasty

    Whenever you are placed under anesthesia, there is a chance of an adverse reaction which is one of the risks of angioplasty. You may react to the anesthesia through an allergic reaction. Older individuals may have difficulty processing the anesthesia. the dye used in the angioplasty procedure also carries a similar risk.

    The kidney and liver are responsible for removing and metabolizing wastes and toxins. If the function of either organ is compromised, you may have difficulty with the angioplasty procedure. Angioplasty involves several major arteries including the femoral artery and any blood vessels explored near the heart. Perforation of any of these vital arteries can cause serious health complications.

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    Recovery from the Angioplasty Procedure

    The recovery from an angioplasty procedure is considerably easier today. Medicine has learned much from years of implementing the balloon angioplasty and a stent via an angioplasty. The primary concern was to control blood flow after the procedure. The procedure involved the femoral artery primarily.

    If blood clotting is not controlled, a patient could bleed to death, complicating the risks of angioplasty procedures. The control had to be balanced with what a patient is capable of handling given the circumstances.

    Another of the risks of angioplasty involves the body's reaction to the stent. One complication is a condition called restenosis. Sometimes, tissue will form around the stent, reversing its effect and narrowing the treated blood vessel. The use of drug-coated stents has helped reduced the instance of this complication.

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    Post Stent and Angioplasty Recovery

    A slight risk of blood clots also exists. To avoid this situation, your doctor will likely prescribe an anti-clotting medication such as aspirin or clopidogrel for a period of time after your angioplasty. Some individuals may stay on these medications for the rest of their lives. While not a direct result of the angioplasty procedure, these drugs can cause serious side effects such as uncontrolled bleeding.

    Advances in medicine continue to refine angioplasty and counter the risks of the procedure. In any case, the procedure provides a non-invasive way to treat blockages in arteries which avoids the more stressful option of surgery.

    Photo by Jean Scheijen, stock.xchng

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    References

    National Institutes of Health: What Are the Risks of Having a Stent www.nhlbi.nih.gov

    L. Sherwood. Human Physiology: From Cells to Systems. 2008