Cardiac catheterizations cause small risk of stroke and other neurological complications

August 3, 2012, Loyola University Health System

(Medical Xpress) -- When a patient undergoes a cardiac catheterization procedure such as a balloon angioplasty, there's a slight risk of a stroke or other neurological complications.

While the risk is extremely small, nevertheless may expect to see catheterization-induced complications because so many procedures are performed, Loyola neurologists write in the journal MedLink Neurology.

Cardiac catheterizations include diagnostic angiograms, balloon angioplasties and stent placements. More than 1.4 million procedures are successfully performed each year. Cardiac catheterizations, like all medical treatments, carry some degree of risk. But because the risk is low, neurologists rarely see patients who experience . The purpose of the MedLink article is to raise awareness of the risks and to list treatment options when complications do occur.

The procedure involves inserting a catheter (thin tube) in the groin or arm and guiding it to the heart. In rare cases, debris can be knocked loose from , travel to the brain and trigger a stroke or (mini stroke). Tiny bubbles released from the catheter also can trigger a stroke or transient ischemic attack. And bleeding in the groin or arm where the catheter is inserted can cause peripheral nerve damage.

However, the risk is slight. And with the use of more refined techniques and smaller and softer catheters, the risk is getting even smaller, said H. Steven Block, MD, first author of the review article.

"We want to be careful to not scare people who need a cardiac catheterization from getting this beneficial procedure," Block said.

Indeed, because the incidence is so low, it is difficult to perform randomized clinical trials to determine the best treatment for catheterization-induced neurologic complications, the authors write.

"Cardiac catheterization is a very safe procedure," Block added. "A lot of neurologists may encounter neurologic complications only once or twice during their careers. But we would like to raise awareness and knowledge, so they are better prepared when a case does happen."

Explore further: UCI cardiologists offer patients safer, more comfortable angioplasty option

Related Stories

UCI cardiologists offer patients safer, more comfortable angioplasty option

July 12, 2011
If you were among the 1 million people annually who need an angioplasty to open a blocked artery, would you choose a procedure that required you to lie still for up to four hours and limit your activities for at least a week ...

How to minimize stroke damage

May 14, 2012
Following a stroke, factors as varied as blood sugar, body temperature and position in bed can affect patient outcomes, Loyola University Medical Center researchers report.

For cardiac stenting procedures, wrist access offers cost saving benefits over groin access, study shows

July 9, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- In the United States, radial artery (wrist) catheterization is performed in the minority of diagnostic angiograms and cardiac stenting procedures despite the benefits it offers to patients in terms of ...

Recommended for you

A drug long used to treat gout may help adult heart failure patients

February 20, 2018
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine have shown that probenecid, a drug long used to treat gout, may be able to improve heart function in adult patients who experience heart failure.

Number of obese years not—just obesity—a distinct risk factor for heart damage

February 20, 2018
In an analysis of clinical data collected on more than 9,000 people, Johns Hopkins researchers have shown that the number of years spent overweight or obese appear to "add up" to a distinct risk factor that makes those with ...

Heart attack symptoms often misinterpreted in younger women

February 20, 2018
Young women who report heart attack symptoms are more likely to have them dismissed by their providers as not heart related, a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health (YSPH) finds.

Eating yogurt may reduce cardiovascular disease risk

February 15, 2018
A new study in the American Journal of Hypertension, published by Oxford University Press, suggests that higher yogurt intake is associated with lower cardiovascular disease risk among hypertensive men and women.

Newly discovered gene may protect against heart disease

February 14, 2018
Scientists have identified a gene that may play a protective role in preventing heart disease. Their research revealed that the gene, called MeXis, acts within key cells inside clogged arteries to help remove excess cholesterol ...

Blood thinners may raise stroke risk in over-65s with kidney disease

February 14, 2018
People over 65 years old may be increasing their stroke risk by taking anticoagulants for an irregular heartbeat if they also have chronic kidney disease, finds a new study led by UCL, St George's, University of London and ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.