Risks of an angioplasty 

As with all types of surgery, coronary angioplasty carries a risk of complications. However, the risk of serious problems is small.

Complications that can occur during or after an angioplasty include:

  • bleeding or bruising under the skin where the catheter was inserted – estimated to occur in more than one in every 20 cases
  • damage to the artery where the sheath was inserted – estimated to occur in less than one in every 100 cases
  • allergic reaction to the contrast agent used during the procedure – estimated to occur in less than one in every 100 cases
  • damage to an artery in the heart – estimated to occur in less than one in every 350 cases
  • excessive bleeding requiring a blood transfusion – estimated to occur in less than one in every 100 cases
  • heart attackstroke or death – estimated to occur in less than one in every 100 cases

Who's most at risk?

Several factors increase your risk of experiencing these complications. These include:

  • your age – the older you are, the higher the risk
  • whether the procedure was planned (for angina), or is emergency treatment for or after a heart attack – emergency treatment is always riskier because there's less time to plan it and the patient is already unwell
  • whether you have kidney disease – the contrast agent used during an angioplasty can occasionally cause further damage to the kidneys
  • whether more than one coronary artery has become blocked – this is known as multi-vessel disease
  • whether you have a history of serious heart disease, including heart failure

Your cardiology team can give you more information about your individual circumstances and level of risk.


Page last reviewed: 09/11/2015

Next review due: 09/11/2017