4 Tips to Lower Risk When You Need Heart Surgery
Outcomes today are typically good for heart surgery, but there is always a risk of complications. Find out how managing your risks can improve your outcome.
Contributor: Faisal Bakaeen, MD
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Heart surgery today is safer than it has ever been. With a growing number of minimally invasive procedures and other technological advancements, we are increasingly confident about surgical outcomes. But with any surgery, it is important to understand your risk before the procedure.
Though most heart surgery is safe, there are potential risks. They include infection, fever, pneumonia, heart attack, stroke, arrhythmia (abnormal heartbeat), memory loss and blood clots.
What can you do to reduce your risk for these problems? First, be aware and talk to your doctor. Second, control whatever risk factors you can to support a good outcome.
You have a lot of control over chances of complications related to other health conditions. Managing whatever risk factors you can is important.
Take these steps:
The best way to gauge your risk of complications after heart surgery is to talk with your doctor. We can help you determine where you stand and create a plan to reduce the likelihood of problems.
The less invasive the procedure is, the less is the associated blood loss and the faster the recovery. The overall risk also may decrease with less-invasive options.
Other factors can contribute to your outcome after heart surgery. These include:
Advanced age — Studies show that those over the age of 80 have a slightly higher risk of kidney failure, stroke and in-hospital death prior to major heart surgery.
Emergency or previous surgeries — You are at higher risk if you have emergency surgery or if you have had heart surgery before.
Other illnesses — Some medical problems can greatly increase your risk of complications as well. These include:
When it comes to heart surgery, it is helpful to focus on two things: One is making the changes that you can to support the best outcome. The other is growing your knowledge about the procedure so you are mentally prepared.