There are various heart conditions that cannot be treated by medication and lifestyle changes alone. Some of them require surgery to fix the underlying cause.
Examples of such heart surgeries are:
- Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting or CABG: In this procedure, a piece of healthy artery or vein from another part of the body is used to bypass the blood supply past a blocked coronary artery.
- Valve repair or replacement: There are 4 valves in the heart and any of them can develop a disease. In such a case, surgery is required to repair the faulty valve or replace with a new one.
- Aneurysm repair: In this procedure, a weak section of an artery or heart wall is replaced with a graft in order to repair a balloon-like swelling on it.
- Heart transplant: In this, a weak or damaged heart is removed and replaced with a healthy heart taken from a deceased donor.
- Maze surgery: This is performed to block stray electrical signals that cause atrial fibrillation, one of the common types of arrhythmia (irregular heart-beat).
- Insertion of a Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) or Total Artificial Heart (TAH): A VAD is a mechanical pump that supports heart function and sustains blood flow. A TAH replaces the two lower chambers of the heart.
Preparing for a heart surgery: Do’s
Up to the previous day of surgery
- Research has shown that deep breathing exercises done every day from a month before the surgery can reduce the risk of pneumonia or other lung infections. To help you with this, the doctor will give you a device called an incentive spirometer (IS), which helps you take slow, deep breaths. Use it as much as possible till your surgery, as instructed by the doctor.
- Consult a dentist: Oral hygiene is important for a patient undergoing heart surgery. Dental issues like abscesses and infected teeth can trigger endocarditis, which is an infection of the heart’s lining, in patients undergoing surgery. You may be advised to get a descaling or full mouth cleaning done, along with treatment for any issues.
- Diet and exercise: A healthy and nutritious diet will ensure that your recuperation after surgery is quick and smooth. Regular exercise is known to boost immunity which again helps in quick recuperation.
Also Read: South Indian Diet Plan for Heart Patients
- If you smoke regularly, avoid doing so in the month before the surgery. Smoking is a risk factor for the formation of blood clots which can interfere with the surgery and recuperation.
- Take all the prescribed medicines meticulously and keep your blood sugars and blood pressure under good control.
Previous day of the surgery
- Check with your doctor about medication that you take for diabetes, asthma, seizures or acid reflux, and take them as instructed. You can consume the same with an ounce of water and no more, unless your doctor has told you otherwise.
- In the same way, take your medication for blood pressure or heart related conditions, as per your doctor’s instructions.
- You may be taking blood-thinning and anti-coagulation medicines such as heparin, warfarin, aspirin or plavix for specific ailments. Your doctor will instruct you on the same. Please follow his instruction meticulously.
- Ensure a healthy and responsible adult is available to take you to the hospital for surgery and is reachable by the medical staff for anything. Similarly, after the surgery, there must be someone to drive you home.
- If you use spectacles, contact lens, hearing aids or dentures, check with the doctor if you can bring them to surgery.
- Wear loose and comfortable clothing to the surgery. A loose-fitting shirt that buttons up the entire front and a loose pant that can be easily worn are ideal.
- Remove all jewellery and leave them at home. This includes chains, bangles, bracelets, and finger-rings.
- You will be instructed to have a shower the previous day, as well as on the day of the surgery, using an antibacterial soap prescribed to you. Other than this, do not use any body lotions, perfumes or talcum powder during or after the shower.
- Wigs and hairpieces: If you use a wig, toupee, hairpiece or hair-extensions, you will be instructed to remove them. A head cover will be given for you to wear.
Preparing for a heart surgery: Don’ts
- If you consume alcoholic drinks or recreational drugs, you will be asked not to do so the previous day as they can interfere with the anaesthesia.
- Do not smoke or use tobacco in any form the previous day of the surgery to minimize the risk of blood clots.
- You will be instructed to not eat or drink anything after midnight on the previous night before surgery. This includes water, beverages, chewing gum or mints. If you are not able to follow this, the doctor may have to reschedule your surgery.
- You may be instructed not to take any blood-thinners like aspirin or coumarin, anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, naproxyn or celebrex, or Vitamin supplements.
- Cosmetics: You will be instructed not to use makeup, perfume, deodorant, hairspray or any other cosmetics the previous day of surgery. This includes nail polish, nail tips, wraps, gels, etc. All such nail adornments should be removed before you head to surgery. This is because one or more of your fingers will be used to accurately monitor your oxygen levels during the procedure.
Heart surgeries are fairly common and have a high rate of success. These are undertaken by highly experienced cardiac surgeons who specialize in these procedures. If you or any of your dear ones are advised to undergo a heart surgery, do not panic. Just follow the doctor’s instructions regarding the procedure and you can look forward to a smooth recovery after the surgery.
Kauvery Hospital is globally known for its multidisciplinary services at all its Centers of Excellence, and for its comprehensive, Avant-Grade technology, especially in diagnostics and remedial care in heart diseases, transplantation, vascular and neurosciences medicine. Located in the heart of Trichy (Tennur, Royal Road and Alexandria Road (Cantonment), Chennai, Karaikudi, Hosur and Salem, the hospital also renders adult and pediatric trauma care.
Chennai – 044 4000 6000 • Trichy – Cantonment – 0431 4077777 • Trichy – Heartcity – 0431 4003500 • Trichy – Tennur – 0431 4022555 • Karaikudi – 04565 244555 • Hosur – 04344 272727 • Salem – 0427 2677777