All about heart surgery
Every year in the United States, more than half a million surgeries are performed for a variety of heart problems. Heart surgery is performed to repair and replace valves in the heart, to repair structures in the heart, and to help stabilize the heart beat. These surgeries can help alleviate pain, pressure and tight feelings in the chest.
Types of Heart Surgery
Open heart surgery is when the chest is cut open for the heart to be operated on. The surgery may be on the muscle, the heart valves, or the arteries. Open heart surgery involves the surgeon making an incision of two to five inches in length in the chest, to be able to get to the heart. During open heart surgery, the patient is attached to a heart-lung machine. This machine allows the surgeon to work on the heart while oxygen pumps through the blood throughout the body. The average hospital stay for open heart surgery is four to seven days.
The most common type of open heart surgery is heart bypass surgery. During this surgery, a blood vessel is taken from one part of your body and used to bypass a damaged vessel in your heart.
During heart valve surgery, one or more of the valves in the heart is repaired or replaced. A valve needs to be repaired or replaced if it does not close properly, or if it opens too much or too little to allow the right amount of blood flow. A valve can be repaired by placing a ring over the end of it, or shortening it to make it stronger, so it opens and closes better, to allow for better flow of blood. If the valve cannot be repaired, it may be replaced by a mechanical or biological valve from a pig, cow or human.
Heart stint surgery involves the replacement of a heart artery with a stint. A stint is a metal mesh tube. It is inserted over an angioplasty balloon during the surgery. This is done using a catheter through either the arm or the leg. The balloon is inflated to expand and fit the stint in place. Then the balloon is deflated and removed while the stint remains. To help maintain the stint and avoid further blockages, blood thinners are required. The procedure usually takes about two hours, and the patient can often go home the same day, although a lot of rest is necessary and certain precautions must be followed.
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