Heart disease is one of the major causes of mortality among patients all across the world. Cardiovascular diseases usually refer to those undesirable conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels which can subsequently lead to stroke, angina or heart attacks. There are several other heart conditions that can adversely affect the heart’s muscle, valves or beating rhythm & which are also thought of as cardiac problems. According to recent studies, 50 percent of men & 55 percent of women above 50 years of age suffer from some kind of heart disease. Apart from this, lung diseases are also inter-related to serious heart conditions. A bad condition of patient’s heart may cause improper flow of blood to other parts of the body including lungs. There is a risk of developing lungs disease due to improper functioning of heart as well. Cardio-thoracic surgery may eventually prove to be an effective solution in treating such conditions.
What is Cardiothoracic Surgery?
Cardiothoracic surgery is defined as a surgical treatment of parts of the thorax region (chest), usually treatment of bad conditions of the heart or a severe heart & lung disease. As the name itself suggests, Cardio- refers to cardiac surgery involving the patient’s heart & its vessels while thoracic surgery involves bad condition of lungs. Cardiothoracic surgery is done for following reasons.
- For repairing or replacing heart valves, which allow flow of blood to travel through patient’s heart
- Repairing abnormal areas or damaged portions of the patient’s heart
- Treating patients suffering from a heart-lung disease
Cardiovascular diseases occur when plaque begins to develop in blood vessels & arteries that lead to the heart. This condition blocks oxygen & important nutrients from reaching the patient’s heart. Accumulation of plaque over inner lining of artery may be damaged by high blood pressure, smoking & high cholesterol level. Several risk factors play an essential role in concluding whether or not a patient is likely to develop heart disease. Some of them are described below.
- Obesity – When patients are extremely obese, they may develop cardiovascular disease.
- Insulin Resistance – Diabetes conditions in several patients lead to heart disease.
- High Level of Cholesterol – This is the most common cause of heart disease. Patients should, therefore, maintain cholesterol levels in order to live healthy.
- Elevated Blood Pressure – Conditions of high blood pressure is dangerous. Most of the times, it is seen that this condition leads to severe heart disease.
- Family History of Cardiovascular Disease – If there is a history of cardiovascular diseases in the patient’s family, they will most likely develop heart disease too.
- Smoking – Smoking is also a major cause of increasing chances of heart disease in most of the patients. Patients should, however, avoid excessive smoking & if possible they should permanently quit the habit.
- Unhealthy Diet – Foods which are oily & prepared from fatty substances can increase chances of heart disease.
- Stress – Staying in a high-stress environment can result in heart disease. Patients should learn stress-management techniques in order to avoid this situation.
Most general symptom of coronary artery disease is chest pain or angina. Angina can be explained as heaviness, discomfort, pressure, burning, aching, squeezing, fullness or painful feeling in the patient’s chest. It may be sometimes mistaken for heartburn or indigestion. Angina may also be felt in the arms, shoulders, neck, arms, jaw, or back.
Other symptoms of coronary heart disease may include the following:
- Weakness or Dizziness
- Shortness of Breath
- Faster & Irregular Heartbeats
Common symptoms of heart attack can include the following:
- Discomfort radiating to the jaw, back, jaw, arm or throat
- Heaviness or severe pain in arm, chest or below the breastbone
- Fullness or choking feeling
- Vomiting or nausea
- Extreme anxiety & weakness
- Rapid heartbeats
During a heart attack, these symptoms usually last thirty minutes or longer than that & are not alleviated by oral medicines or rest.
When arrhythmias or an abnormal heart rhythm, are present in patients, they may be identified by the following:
- Feeling of skipped heartbeats or fluttering in chest
- Feeling light-headed
- Pounding in patient’s chest
- Chest discomfort
- Fatigue or feeling extremely tired
There are several types of cardiothoracic surgeries. Some of the significant ones are described below.
- Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG) – In this type of cardiac surgery, arteries or veins from elsewhere in the body of patients are grafted to coronary arteries in order to alleviate the condition of angina & reduce the risk of death from heart disease. These grafts bypass blocked or narrowed passages of patient’s arteries to increase blood supply to their heart muscle.
- Mitral & Aortic Valve Repair & Replacement Surgery – Cardiothoracic surgeons are extremely skilled at repairing leaking or blocked heart valves. Their first preference is always to preserve native valve, but when a heart valve is badly damaged, they may use tissue prostheses. Cardiothoracic surgeons usually achieve successful mitral valve repairs in close to 100 percent of patients who are good candidates for undergoing this type of surgery.
- Left Ventricle Restoration – This procedure involves eliminating scarred, dead tissue in left chamber of the heart muscle, increasing its functionality to pump blood out into the patient’s body. This procedure is often performed in conjunction with valve repair surgery or coronary bypass surgery.
- Lung & Esophageal Resection – Both lungs & esophagus can be affected by either malignant or benign diseases, thereby, necessitating the need of surgically removing a damaged tissue of the heart. Many such procedures can be done with the help of small incisions that are comparatively less painful & can heal faster.
- Radiofrequency Ablation for Atrial Fibrillation – Atrial fibrillation is basically an abnormal heart rhythm that can lead to irregular & faster heartbeats. These abnormal heartbeats can cause dizziness, discomfort & shortness of breath in patients. Cardiothoracic surgeons may perform minimally invasive surgery with tiny incisions to guide radiofrequency waves on the surface of patient’s heart, making scar lines to block the irregular heartbeat in patients.
Basic step of diagnosing cardiac disease is undergoing doctor’s examination. Cardiologists may perform several tests to confirm presence of heart diseases. Tests like EKG, chest x-ray, stress test, echocardiogram, MRI & electrophysiology can detect several types of cardiac diseases. Cardio-thoracic surgeons will completely evaluate patients & depending upon these test results, they will suggest the type of cardio-thoracic surgery which is suitable for them.
Preparing for Cardiothoracic Surgery
- Health Condition – Patients should tell their doctors about any medications or drugs they are consuming including over-the-counter medications, herbs & vitamins. Patients should inform them of any illnesses they currently have, including cold, herpes outbreak, fever or flu.
- Smoking – Two weeks prior to cardiothoracic surgery, surgeons may ask patients to stop smoking & also to stop taking blood-thinning medications, such as ibuprofen, aspirin or naproxen.
- Alcohol – It’s important for patients to talk to cardiac surgeons about their alcohol consumption before they prepare for cardiothoracic surgery. Surgeons can help patients with alcohol withdrawal to minimize the likelihood of complications after surgery.
Patients should clear all doubts they have before undergoing cardiothoracic surgery. Following is a list of important questions which patients may find helpful.
- Which symptoms make cardiothoracic surgery advisable for me?
- What will likely happen if I do not undergo this operation?
- How will cardiothoracic surgery improve my quality of life & overall health?
- Are there any severe complications which may occur after this surgery?
- How long time does cardiothoracic surgery normally take?
- Can you tell me the average length of hospital stay?
- What type of follow-up steps are expected after cardiothoracic surgery?
- What kind of long-term follow-up do I need in the up-coming years after my surgery?
- Will there be any limitations in lifestyle post-surgery? Heavy weight lifting or sports of any type?
Patients are given general anesthesia prior to surgery. This ensures that patients will be asleep & pain-free during their cardiothoracic surgery. Surgeons repair damage to heart by choosing any one of the most suitable procedures for the patient. Cardiac surgeons use a healthy artery or vein to make a new path across the damaged or blocked artery of patients. At the end, the original cut is stitched up by surgeons. Most of the patients feel a good difference in their lives after undergoing cardio-thoracic surgery. They are mostly relieved by cardiac diseases post-surgery.
When patients wake up after undergoing cardiothoracic surgery, they will have two or more tubes in their chest. They may also have intravenous lines, to supply them essential fluids. Patient’s heart will be monitored for some time by the medical staff in order to avoid any complications. Patients will have to spend their first night usually in intensive care unit of the hospital. They will then be shifted to a normal care room for the next two to five days & soon will be discharged from the hospital. Taking proper care at home immediately after cardio-thoracic surgery is an essential part of patient’s recovery. Pain management is an essential step of recovery, as it can increase healing speed & reduce likelihood of certain complications like pneumonia or blood clots after surgery. It is extremely important for patients to take prescribed medications & performing light exercises as well. Cardiac surgeons may recommend performing exercises & brisk walking to patients after a couple of weeks’ time. Some patients may also experience difficulty in sleeping after surgery, but it is essential to get as much rest as possible. For complete recovery, it may take up to six months. Patient’s positive attitude will definitely contribute to a speedy & healthy recovery.
Patients can undergo cardiothoracic surgery for their heart-lung diseases successfully but as with any other surgery some risks are involved; likewise, cardiothoracic surgery also has several risks & possible complications which are stated below.
- Chest wound infection which is more common in patients with diabetes or obesity
- Stroke or Heart Attack
- Abnormal & Irregular Heartbeat
- Kidney Failure
- Lung Failure
- Pain in Chest
- Blood Loss
- Blood Clot
- Breathing Problems
According to top cardiac surgeons in the world, these risks associated with cardio-thoracic surgery can be minimized with proper care & healthy life routine.
Patients should expect gradual recovery after cardio-thoracic surgery. It may take up to seven weeks before they start feeling better & up to three months to experience full advantages of cardio-thoracic surgery. Outlook for most cardio-thoracic surgery patients is satisfactory & they can live a normal life afterwards. Nevertheless, cardio-thoracic surgery does not prevent artery narrowing or blocking from happening once again. However, patients can help improve their heart health by taking the following steps.
- Following a healthy diet
- Cutting back on foods high in fat, salt & sugar
- Leading a healthy & active lifestyle
- Quitting the habit of smoking
- Controlling high cholesterol levels & blood pressure
It will greatly help patients to enjoy their life without having any complications.
Benefits of Medical Tourism in India for Cardiothoracic Surgery
India has become one of the most popular medical tourism destinations these days for overseas patients seeking better, affordable & healthy treatments for their heart-related problems. Heart is the most precious part of the human body & to maintain it as healthy & young is a challenging task nowadays. After championing open heart surgery in the past, Indian cardiac surgeons have effortlessly moved on to minimally invasive techniques & robotic surgery to solve a variety of cardiothoracic problems. Cardiac care in India is capable of correcting most life-threatening conditions. Cost of cardio-thoracic surgery in India is a pleasant surprise which is comparatively much lower than anywhere else across the world.
Low Cost Cardiothoracic Surgery with Travcure Medical Tourism
Hospital facilities associated with Travcure Medical Tourism within the subcontinent are top-notch & most advanced accredited organizations that are made available for international patients. Some of the best affordable cardiac surgery procedures offered by Travcure in India include mitral valve replacement surgery, Pacemaker Implantation Surgery & CABG. International patients can enjoy a hassle-free & beneficial medical trip with Travcure for their cardio-thoracic surgery requirements.
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