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

Complications can occur during or after an angioplasty.

It's common to have bleeding or bruising under the skin where the catheter was inserted.

More serious complications are less common but can include:

  • damage to the artery where the sheath was inserted
  • allergic reaction to the contrast agent used during the procedure
  • damage to an artery in the heart
  • excessive bleeding requiring a blood transfusion
  • heart attackstroke or death

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 1 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.