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How safe is carotid angioplasty?

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Quick Answer

The complication rates for carotid angioplasty range between 0.9 and 9.3 percent, according to the European Society of Cardiology. Potential complications include sustained hypotension, carotid artery dissection, hyperperfusion syndrome, stroke and intracranial hemorrhage.

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Persistent hypotension occurs in 4 to 11 percent of the patients who undergo carotid stenting procedures, claims the European Society of Cardiology. Predictors of hypotension in patients undergoing the procedure include age, severe calcifications and use of self-expanding stents. Patients who develop this complication respond well to proper management, which includes intravenous hydration. Cerebral hemorrhage, which is a fatal complication, occurs in about 0.3 percent of patients undergoing carotid procedures. Professionals recommend that physicians terminate the procedure when they suspect cerebral hemorrhage.

The risk of developing cerebral hyperperfusion syndrome after undergoing carotid angioplasty ranges between 0.3 and 2.7 percent, claims the European Society of Cardiology. Elevated blood pressure, an altered mental status, headaches and intracranial hemorrhage characterize cerebral hyperperfusion. The syndrome usually develops in patients with poor collateral circulation and severe carotid stenosis. During carotid angioplasty, blood clots may form, travel to the brain and cause a stroke or ministroke, states Mayo Clinic. Administering blood thinners during the procedure usually minimizes the risk of a transient ischemic attack.

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