People with this condition may experience shortness of breath, irregular heartbeats and chest pain. The procedure chosen will depend on the valve that needs replacement, the severity of symptoms and the risk of surgery. Some procedures may require long-term medication to guard against blood clots.
You have options when choosing a heart valve. Survivor Robert Epps shares the factors that influenced his own heart valve choice:. Print our Pre-surgery Checklist: Valve replacement procedures may require a sternotomy or, in some cases, may only require a series of small incisions. Mitral valve repair can often provide a very normal life to the patient without the need for ongoing blood thinners and other modifications associated with valve replacements.
Walk through a step-by-step interactive guide explaining your valve issue and treatment options with helpful videos, text summaries and links along the way. The link provided below is for convenience only, and is not an endorsement of either the linked-to entity or any product or service.
Avoid caffeine in the evening. Before, during, and after surgery. The severity of these risks depends on the individual. Sign up for a free Medical News Today account to customize your medical and health news experiences. I was bewildered as to why I was there. Instead, make a commitment to live healthy just for today.
Valve Replacement The aortic valve and the mitral valve are the most commonly replaced valves. Replacing a narrowed valve: Replacing a leaky valve: Surgical options for valve replacement include: If the arteries become blocked or narrowed due to heart disease , a person may be at risk of a heart attack. The operation involves taking a healthy blood vessel from another part of the body and using it to bypass the blocked arteries.
Another open-heart procedure involves replacing a faulty aortic valve. The aortic heart valve prevents blood from flowing back into parts of the heart after the heart has pumped it out. Surgeons also perform open-heart surgery to repair aneurysms, which are bulges in the main artery leaving the heart. A person undergoing open heart surgery will need to stay in the hospital for 7 — 10 days.
This includes at least a day in the intensive care unit immediately after the operation. Preparation for open heart surgery starts the night before. A person should eat an evening meal as usual but must not consume any food or drink after midnight. It is a good idea to wear loose, comfortable clothing to assist with restricted movement following surgery, but wear whatever is comfortable.
Be sure to have all personal medical information on hand. This might include a list of medications, recent illness, and insurance information. It is normal to feel anxious before an anesthetic, and people should not hesitate to seek reassurance from the healthcare team. The doctor may request that the person washes their upper body with antibacterial soap.
A member of the healthcare team may need to shave the person's chest area before they can have the anesthetic. The doctors may also need to run tests before surgery, such as monitoring the heart or taking blood samples. A doctor or nurse might place a line into a vein to enable the delivery of fluids.
After the medical team has completed the preliminary tasks, the anesthesiologist will administer general anesthesia. The length of time it takes to carry out open heart surgery depends on the type of procedure and the needs of the individual. To access the heart, the surgeon makes a 6-toinch incision along the middle of the chest.
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The cut will go through the breastbone. The medical team might use a heart-lung bypass machine during the surgery. This involves stopping the heart from beating. The bypass machine takes over the heart's pumping action and removes blood from the heart via tubes. The machine then removes carbon dioxide from the blood, adds oxygen, and returns the blood to the body. This surgery is called "on-pump" surgery.
Sometimes, a surgeon might work "off-pump. A member of the surgical team uses a device to steady the heart while the surgeon performs the procedure. There is insufficient evidence to confirm whether on-pump open heart surgery is safer than off-pump surgery. However, according to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence NICE , survival rates 1 year after either form of open-heart surgery are similar at about 96—97 percent. A team of doctors and other health professionals work together in the operating theater during open heart surgery.
Open heart surgery is a major operation that requires close monitoring and immediate post-operative support.
It is normal for a person to remain in the intensive care unit ICU for a couple of days after the procedure to receive further care. After the operation, a breathing tube will remain in place for a period to assist with breathing. A line also stays in the vein to administer pain relief. A person may find themselves attached to a variety of other monitoring equipment. After leaving ICU, a person will probably stay in the hospital for about a week.
Recovery at home after leaving the hospital usually takes between 4 to 6 weeks. The healthcare team will guide rehabilitation and advise on medications and restrictions on physical activity. Be patient and take your time. It takes many weeks or months to return to usual levels of activity. Some doctors might offer specialist support for daily activities and other aspects of recovery as part of a specific cardiac rehabilitation program.
Aftercare varies for each individual but might include blood tests, heart scans, and stress tests. A stress test involves monitoring the heart during a treadmill exercise. There are now some alternatives to opening the chest to perform heart surgery, including the use of endoscope cameras and robots.
Sometimes, surgeons can treat narrowed coronary arteries by making minimally invasive cuts to the skin and using the da Vinci robot to perform the surgery. The Da Vinci is a multi-limbed, robotic surgical tool, which the surgeon controls remotely. This procedure has no advantages in terms of effectiveness or safety over open-heart surgery.
Both types of surgery require a similar length of stay and care plan in the hospital. The main difference is that people who have undergone this less invasive surgery recover in less time than those who have had more traditional surgery. The severity of these risks depends on the individual. People with a more advanced heart condition face a higher risk of complications during and after surgery. Recovery and long-term outlook depend on the overall health of the person and the particular procedure they need.
After recovery from a bypass operation, people should see an improvement in symptoms, such as chest pain and breathlessness. The surgery also reduces the risk of heart attack. Open heart surgeries are not necessarily a cure, however. Disease in the coronary arteries can still progress even after a bypass. Open heart surgery can be a daunting prospect for a newly-diagnosed person, but its success rate is high and experienced professionals will make the procedure as comfortable as possible.
It is normal to feel anxious before open heart surgery. Getting as much information as possible from your heart surgeon can help ease your anxiety. Also, be reassured by the fact that surgeons perform open heart surgeries every day with a fantastic survival rate. In addition to getting information on what to expect, you can also try relaxation techniques to help decrease your anxiety, such as meditation and breathing exercises. Article last updated by Adam Felman on Wed 29 August Visit our Surgery category page for the latest news on this subject, or sign up to our newsletter to receive the latest updates on Surgery.