Your heart is like a constant engine pumping blood around the body continuously 24 hours a day and, as with so many vital and complex organs, things can occasionally go wrong. This article is a brief overview of a few of the more common procedures that are carried out to correct and/or to improve the heart’s performance.
Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG)CABG surgery – an acronym often referred to as ‘cabbage’ or more simply referred to as a ‘heart bypass’, is used to treat coronary artery disease. It uses a blood vessel which is commonly taken from another area of the chest, arm or leg to bypass an artery which may have become blocked or has become too narrow to function efficiently.
The reason the operation is performed is that if a vital artery becomes blocked or is too narrow, it restricts the supply of oxygen and other vital nutrients to the heart which often results in severe pains in the chest called angina and, by having a heart bypass, it improves the flow of blood to the heart which reduces the chances of you suffering a heart attack.
Heart Valve SurgeryIf one or more valves in the heart are diseased, damaged or otherwise not functioning properly, open heart surgery is carried out to either repair or replace the damaged valve. A faulty valve places an increased strain on the heart and will often result in symptoms such as experiencing breathlessness or suffering with swollen ankles.
Whether you have the valve repaired or replaced will depend on what is wrong with the valve and how serious the damage is. By having heart valve surgery, it can either completely eradicate a particular problem you’ve been experiencing or it can, at least, improve your symptoms but, overridingly, it can dramatically improve the overall functioning capabilities of your heart and can reduce the potential for more damaging problems to arise later.
Heart Pacemaker ImplantA pacemaker may be implanted into your heart if you are suffering from arrhythmia. This is a disturbance of the normal rhythm of your heart which can either occur continuously or sporadically from time to time. Although arrhythmia can be associated with heart disease, it can also occur naturally or sometimes because of a reaction to a particular medication you might be taking. When a pacemaker is implanted, it produces electrical impulses when it recognises arrhythmia and sends a small ‘shock’ to your heart to correct the problem.
Coronary AngioplastyAn angioplasty procedure involves the flattening of the fatty material which builds up inside the walls of the main arteries which causes them to narrow. It is usually one of the procedures which may be considered if you have been suffering from angina and by flattening the fatty materials it means that blood can flow more easily and reduces the risk of heart attack which can result when the arteries are completely blocked.
Looking After Your HeartWhilst all these surgical procedures are potentially life-saving treatments, the important thing when it comes to the heart is that prevention is far better than cure. In the UK, heart disease kills more people than any other disease and that’s true for both men and women.
The way you conduct your life in terms of what you eat and drink, how physically active you are and your general lifestyle will all have a direct bearing on how healthy your heart is and how likely you are to have to undergo any of the above procedures.
Therefore, things like your diet, how much alcohol you consume, whether you smoke or not and how much exercise you take all have a direct correlation to the health of your heart. For further advice on how you can look after your heart better, your local GP surgery will have plenty of leaflets and advice they can give you.