Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and although there is no cure there are many treatments are available. For those who suffer from heart problems, from chest pain to coronary artery disease, these treatments can be used to help restore the heart to a healthy state.
Coronary artery disease is a condition that occurs when the arteries leading to the heart have become coated in plaque and narrowed, allowing less blood and oxygen to get to the heart. The surgeries used range from slightly invasive to major surgery with a significant recovery time.
Let’s investigate some of the most common treatments used to treat heart disease.
Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery
Bypass surgery is one of the most well-known heart surgeries. This procedure is used to treat those who are suffering from coronary artery disease and after other less invasive surgeries are ruled out. The goal here is to provide an alternative route for blood to reach the muscles of the heart. When the arteries around the heart become plaque coated, the heart cannot receive enough oxygen and the muscles can begin to die.
Doctors will take a vein from elsewhere in your body, usually the leg, and reroute the artery to avoid the block. This can be performed on anywhere from one to all of the arteries leading to the heart, hence the names single, double, or triple bypass surgery. The recovery time for this surgery is quite long, but it can significantly increase the lifespan of those who need it.
Angioplasty is a preventative surgery that is much less invasive than bypass surgery. There are multiple forms of angioplasty that can be used from balloon to stent to rotoblation and several others.
A balloon angioplasty is exactly what it sounds like; a small deflated balloon is guided through your artery to the point where the blockage is. Once that point is reached the balloon is inflated to open up the artery and crush the plaque down into a smaller layer, allowing more blood flow. Using a stent is a more advanced version of balloon angioplasty in which a metal mesh cylinder is also put into the artery and after the balloon is inflated the mesh maintains that size and stays in place to keep the artery open.
This is the most dangerous and the last step before complete heart failure. This treatment is for people who are at the end stage of heart failure, but are healthy otherwise. This surgery is also used for those born with a heart defect.
Just like any other transplant, a donated heart from someone who has passed away is used and replaces the old heart. This treatment is only used after all other protocols and surgeries have been considered and ruled out, or have been attempted and failed. Some of the major risks associated are infections, coronary artery disease redeveloping, and organ rejection.
There are other heart surgeries as well, including heart valve repair and transmyocardial revascularization which we discuss in more detail elsewhere on this site.
Heart disease is a major health issue facing both the United States and the World, but if it is caught early enough it can be treated. Heart pain of any kind should also be check out by a doctor. Together you can decide if you may be a candidate for one of the heart surgeries.