Cardiac Catheterization - Risks

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What Are the Risks Associated With Cardiac Catheterization?

Cardiac catheterization is generally safe. However, as with any invasive procedure, there are risks. Special precautions are taken to decrease these risks. Your doctor will discuss the risks of the procedure with you.

Risks are rare but can include:

  • Bleeding around the point of puncture
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Blood clots
  • Infection
  • Allergic reaction to the dye
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Perforation of a blood vessel
  • Air embolism (introduction of air into a blood vessel, which can be life-threatening)

Be sure to ask your doctor any questions you may have before undergoing cardiac catheterization or other tests for heart disease.

Return to Cardiac Catheterization

See what others are saying

Comment from: Jozie, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: March 01

I had a mild heart attack last year, went to the hospital by ambulance and was told after they did a cardiac catheterization that I needed a quadruple bypass done. Well, I wound up getting a double bypass. My own doctor/surgeon said my other arteries were too small to bother with. However, my problem began with the catheterization procedure. I made them put me out because I have severe neuropathy pain in my legs, and I knew they were going to hurt me if they didn't put me out. But during the procedure I briefly awoke and saw something I didn't like happen. One doctor pointed to me while another on my right side grabbed my thigh and laid his body over me. I was put back out so couldn't see what happened next. But they told me there was a problem and my artery was bleeding during the procedure, so they had to 'glue' me up. Well I'll tell you this. I had a huge bruise on my thigh, it was very swollen, and I could barely stand up on my leg. It's been almost a full year since then and I am still in a lot of pain there and have several sore spots on my leg besides. It is so difficult to walk that at times I am brought to tears from the pain and major pain killers do not take it away either. That doctor was not paying attention to what he was doing to me. I heard them chatting and laughing about their vacation or something of the like when I woke up. Actually, I could have lost my life because of him. Thank goodness, I survived it. But it has left me in severe pain every single day of my life. I had visiting nurses attend to me after I had surgery and he told me he had another patient who lived nearby who had the same problem done to them.

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Comment from: Anonymous Woman, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: March 15

I had a cardiac catheter 5 days ago. I heard them the entire time. My eyes were open and they kept saying you need to give her more. Then I heard the nurse say, she's on hydrocodone, valium and enough fentanyl for a 300 lb. man. (I'm 5'2' and weigh about 135.) I can't give her anymore. The doctor pressed on my wound to close it and inadvertently moved nerves but said he had to keep the pressure on it for ten minutes. I was screaming in pain even with all that pain killer. I was loopy and apologized for screaming. I'm still in a tremendous amount of pain. I go to see my PCP (primary care physician) tomorrow and then have to make a follow up with the cardiologist. But I wonder if the pain should be this bad! I can't get up without pain, I can't sit without pain, I can't move without pain and I'm still on hydrocodone 4 times a day!

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