Heart surgery, also called cardiopulmonary surgery, is surgical operation on the heart, lungs, or other large vessels done by heart surgeons. Sometimes called coronary heart disease surgery, this type of medical procedure is designed to open blocked arteries that lead to heart attacks and heart failure. In some cases, the blockage is so severe that no surgery can remove it. In such cases, the heart surgeon may choose to do heart bypass surgery. This bypasses a part of the aorta, allowing some of the heart muscle to bypass the blockage, and brings the circulatory system back in shape.
There are many types of heart surgery. They can be divided into open-heart surgery and restrictive-heart surgery. In an open-heart surgery, as the name suggests, the surgeons open the aorta, or section of the heart, to allow the blood to flow freely into the body. The surgery leaves minimal scarring and usually results in a shorter recovery time than a restrictive procedure, since there are no blocked arteries to cut through.
The most common type of heart surgery is to repair or replace defective heart valves. When a defective valve malfunctions, blood flow is reduced in some parts of the heart, and this lack of blood flow causes irregular heartbeats. A heart valve can break down for a number of reasons, so the problem must be diagnosed before surgery can be successfully performed. Some causes of a defective valve are endocarditis (inflammation of the valves themselves), enlarged left ventricle (late stage hypertension) or congenital heart defects. Repairing or replacing heart valves is a popular procedure used to prevent future heart attacks.
Another type of heart surgery is to open up or repair an abnormal, underperforming or failing heart. An example of an abnormal valve is an open-heart surgery known as mitral valve prolapse. Mitral valve prolapse occurs when the valve leaves the heart and rolls into the groin area, blocking blood flow to the heart. This condition requires open heart surgery to repair. It is one of the most commonly performed surgeries and results in a small degree of correction, but the patient is still left with a diminished quality of life because of the surgery.
Many patients have problems with their hearts because they are overweight. Because of this, many people with heart disease are also considered obese and are discouraged from being obese. Because of this, doctors recommend surgery to help control heart disease and obesity. The surgery the doctor will choose depends on the age, overall health, and overall condition of the patient. Many doctors will want to perform a gastric bypass to help control the amount the person eats.
For people who are not yet eligible for a traditional open-heart surgery or a damaged heart, they may receive open-heart surgery instead. In this case, the doctor will place a protective chest ring on the injured or damaged heart. Once placed, this ring will force the damaged heart back into its proper place. Because of this, a damaged heart does not need to be replaced immediately; instead, it is slowly repaired over time. This type of surgery can be used to help repair an aortic valve or to replace a blocked artery, so a person who has been waiting for a traditional heart surgery to come through may consider this option.