Five Things To Know About Heart Surgery


As February marks Heart Health Month, show your heart some love by eating a nutritious diet consisting of fruits, vegetables and whole grains; exercising regularly; and avoiding smoking. Taking these steps can decrease the chance that you may need heart surgery one day, but if you do need heart surgery, medical advancements have improved options and outcomes for surgery patients. Here are five things you should know about heart surgery:

1. If your arteries are blocked, surgery can help.

A blocked blood vessel can lead to a heart attack, stroke or other problems. Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) is the most common type of open-heart surgery performed on adults today. The surgeon uses a blood vessel taken from another part of the body to provide an alternate route for blood to go around the blockage.

2. When you have a valve that doesn’t work, doctors can replace it without surgery.

Conditions like aortic stenosis can keep the heart valve from opening fully and make it difficult for blood to flow. Left untreated, aortic stenosis can damage the heart muscle and lead to severe complications.

The good news is that aortic stenosis can be fixed without surgery. Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a game-changer. It is a minimally invasive alternative to a traditional surgical valve replacement, deploying artificial heart valves using small catheters. This avoids the need for open-heart surgery and can lead to less pain and faster recovery.

TAVR demonstrates outstanding results, providing a viable treatment option for patients who previously had limited choices, ultimately extending their lives and enhancing their overall quality of life.

3. Traditional surgery can work for a valve replacement, too.

Certainly, open-heart surgery remains a viable method for replacing a damaged heart valve. Surgeons have performed the procedure for more than 50 years, yet surgical aortic valve replacement (SAVR) is still considered major surgery since it involves opening the chest to perform the procedure. Nevertheless, it has a high success rate, with a low likelihood of significant complications.

4. You should treat a bulge in your blood vessel before it becomes an emergency.

An aortic aneurysm is an enlargement of the aorta, which is the main blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body. When an aneurysm gets too large, it can tear or rupture, which may be life-threatening.

There is a lot at stake, so it’s important to know the warning signs, which can include:

  • Chest pain

  • Coughing up blood

  • Dizziness

  • Hoarseness or trouble swallowing

  • Pulsing near the belly button

  • Shortness of breath

  • Sudden and intense abdominal or back pain

If you or a loved one have an aortic aneurysm, treatment often starts with medication and keeping a close eye on it. However, if it’s large or fast-growing, surgery may be the best option to replace the weak section of the aorta with a graft or tube.

5. Surgery can correct heart rhythm problems.

Today, doctors can help arrhythmia issues. But when medications and catheter ablations don’t work, surgical ablations can be performed with improved success.

If you are concerned about your heart health, schedule an appointment with a primary care provider or cardiologist. If heart surgery is recommended, Luminis Health provides skilled, compassionate surgical care for all heart conditions. Consultations are available in Annapolis, Kent Island and Lanham. This ensures you receive high-quality care conveniently close to home.

Murtaza Dawood is an experienced cardiothoracic surgeon who is recognized for performing operations for complex valve disease and atrial fibrillation. He is known for treating mitral valve regurgitation as well as aortic valve disease.


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