The American Heart Association (AHA) estimates that one-third of the American adult population, or over 80 700 000 people, are suffering from at least one form of cardiovascular disease (CVD). One American dies almost every minute from various types of CVD which can range from high blood pressure, angina pectoris, and congenital cardiovascular defects to the most prevalent one, coronary heart disease (CHD). Thus, the importance of maintaining a healthy heart and developing heart-beneficial medicines and medical operations is stressed in the American health industry.
Due to the high occurrence of heart diseases, Open-Heart Surgery (OHS) has become one of America’s most commonly performed operations. AHA recorded that in 2005 alone, a total of 699 000 life-saving OHS, including valve replacements and cardiac revascularization, were performed. In 2006, almost 2 200 people had heart transplant surgeries. OHS is a general term for surgeries that puts the heart on a bypass machine while doctors attempt to fix the heart’s dysfunction.
It can be furthered delineated into the different kinds of OHS which include valve procedures and cardiac revascularization, more popularly known as bypass operation. The difference comes mainly from what particular cardiovascular problem the operations try to solve, such as replacing valves or the whole heart or rerouting arteries in cases of blockages in the situation of bypass and minimally invasive heart surgeries. The general process though is quite similar. According to the AHA website, the OHS lasts about three to five hours, depending on the complexity of the patient’s problem.
During the surgery, the patient is in deep sleep from the anesthesia and thus, will have no memory of the operation. The procedure requires cutting through the breast bone or sternum and splitting it in half. Retractors are then used to keep the cut open thus exposing and gaining access to the heart. As aforementioned, the patient’s heart is put on a heart and lung bypass machine during the operation. The bypass machine temporarily keeps oxygenated blood circulating throughout the body. While the operation is definitely a very delicate procedure, its survival rates are high.
To increase the patients’ safety, AHA enumerates some specific information and precaution for people who are about to undergo their OHS. Pre-operation patients should be prepared to undergo some routine procedures like X-rays and electrocardiogram, as well as blood drawing for cross-matching with donor blood if the need for blood transfusion ever arises. The patient is also given the opportunity to meet with his or her OHS team made up of surgeons, cardiologists, anesthesiologists, and nurses.
The patient can ask questions and talk about any apprehensions, while the team can inform the patient what happens during the surgery to prepare oneself. There are also certain things patients should expect after the surgery. According to the AHA, patients should consider difficulty in breathing and emotional ups and downs to be normal. They may also experience poor mobility and coordination but should expect to do more physical activities such as walking with help in a day or two.
After the operation, most patients can only drink, but solid food will be added once the patient can tolerate them. However, salt and salty foods are prohibited. Weight loss is expected, thus weight gain should be immediately reported as this might mean that the body is retaining fluid which is dangerous. Full recovery comes at six to eight weeks after the surgery. Works Cited American Heart Association. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics. 2008. 27 Jan 2009. <http://www. americanheart. org/downloadable/heart/1200082005246HS_Stats%202008. final. pdf>. —–.
Open-Heart Surgery. 2009. 27 Jan 2009 from <http://www. medmovie. com/mmdatabase/MediaPlayer. aspx? ClientID=65&TopicID=578>. —–. Open-Heart Surgery Statistics. 2009. 27 Jan 2009 from <http://www. americanheart. org/presenter. jhtml? identifier=4674>. —–. How Can I Prepare for Heart Surgery?. 2007. 27 Jan 2009 from <http://www. americanheart. org/downloadable/heart/1196353410728PrepareHeartSurgery. pdf>. —–. How Can I Recover From Heart Surgery?. 2007. 27 Jan 2009 from <http://www. americanheart. org/downloadable/heart/1196355902375RecoverHeartSurgery. pdf>.