Cardiac catheterization is a test for the heart and its blood supply. A wire is passed through blood vessels to the heart and images are taken with type of x-ray.

Possible Complications

If you are planning to have cardiac catheterization, your doctor will review a list of possible complications. Complications may include:

  • Bleeding where the catheter goes in
  • Damage to an artery wall
  • Heart attack or abnormal heart beats known as arrhythmias
  • Allergic reaction to the x-ray dye
  • Blood clot formation
  • Infection

Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

  • Allergies to medications or x-ray dye
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Bleeding problems
  • Increased age
  • Recent pneumonia
  • Recent heart attack
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease



This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.

a (Coronary Angiography; Coronary Arteriography; Coronary Angiogram)

Click here to view an animated version of this procedure.

Call for Medical Help Right Away If Any of the Following Occur

Call for medical help right away if you have symptoms including:

  • Drooping facial muscles
  • Changes in vision or speech
  • Difficulty walking or using your arms
  • Change in sensation to affected leg or arm, including numbness, feeling cold, or change in color
  • Extreme sweating, nausea or vomiting
  • Lightheadedness
  • Chest pain
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Cough, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing
  • Weakness or fainting

If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.


American Heart Association 

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute 


Canadian Cardiovascular Society 

Heart and Stroke Foundation 


Cardiac catheterization. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: Accessed December, 3, 2020.

Cardiac catheterization. National Heart Lung and Blood Institute website. Available at: Accessed December, 3, 2020.

Preparing for cardiac catheterization. Cedars-Sinai website. Available at: Accessed December, 3, 2020.