Blood Clots and Cardiac Catheterization

With many surgical and medical procedures, a potential complication is developing blood clots, and cardiac catheterization is a particular procedure that may pose this risk. Blood clots, which are generally not serious or noticeable, can become dangerous if they break off from the wall of a blood vessel and travel to various organs. Small clots are usually not a significant problem, but larger and more serious forms of blood clots, such as pulmonary embolus, can be life-threatening.

An Overview of Blood Clots Following Cardiac Catheterization

A potential complication of cardiac catheterization is developing a blood clot within a blood vessel. A blood clot is a collection of blood material that clots into a ball inside a blood vessel. Because your body has ways to deal with blood clots, most are not serious and not even noticeable.
 
Your doctor will make every effort to minimize the chance that you develop a serious clot. Blood clots can become dangerous when they break off from the wall of a blood vessel and travel to various organs. The clot can then partially or completely block blood flow in one of these organs, causing the organ to have a decreased blood supply past the site of the blockage. This eventually can lead to significant damage to that organ.
 
Small clots are usually not a significant problem, but larger blood clots can cause serious problems. One very serious blood clot is called a pulmonary embolus. A pulmonary embolus is formed when a blood clot from the leg or pelvis breaks off and travels to the lungs. This causes abnormal blood flow through the lungs, making it more difficult for the lungs to provide oxygen to the rest of the body.
 
Loss of life from a pulmonary embolus is possible when caused by a larger clot. Blood clots are usually treated with blood-thinning medication and extra days in the hospital. In extreme cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the clot.
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