Heart attacks are the second most common cause of death in Singapore. They are the third most common reason for hospital admission.
According to the Ministry of Health, 328 patients were admitted to the National Heart Centre and National University Hospital for open heart surgery (coronary artery bypass graft) from 2014 to 2015.
Patients have open heart surgery to prevent a heart attack or repeat heart attacks. The most common type of open heart surgery is CABG.
Your cardiologist may recommend medication or surgery if you have coronary artery disease. These treatments can help flush out blockages in your artery.
It is normal for you to have questions about its safety and effectiveness before any surgery. It's important for you to understand the risk, procedure and recovery steps. Here are three factors that make you an ideal candidate for open heart surgery:
The severity of your coronary artery disease means you need open heart surgery. If medication is not enough to treat your blocked artery, your cardiologist may recommend open heart surgery. This surgery will bypass your blocked artery with a healthy artery. This will allow blood to flow back to your heart, prolonging and improving the quality of your life.
Your cardiologist will assess if you are an ideal candidate for open heart surgery based on the following criteria:
When you know you will undergo open heart surgery it's important that you prepare. You should understand the risks, procedure and recovery.
Complications that may arise from an open heart surgery include:
The key to lowering the risk of complications lies in planning the surgery.
Before the surgery, have an honest conversation with your doctor. You will need to tell them about medications that you are taking. Some medications may complicate the surgery. These include medications for diabetes and kidney disorders and emphysema.
Your cardiac surgeon will conduct a thorough assessment of your health condition and your readiness to minimise risk.
As the name suggests, open heart surgery is an operation whereby the cardiac surgeon makes a cut or incision on your chest to expose your heart. The surgeon will then remove the blocked or damaged artery and replace it with a healthy artery. He gets this artery from another part of your body, usually the leg or inside your chest wall.
During the surgery, you will be hooked to a heart-lung machine. This machine will supply oxygenated blood to your body while the surgeon is operating on your heart.
After the procedure, the surgeon will take you off the machine and will check if the graft was successful. If your new artery is working to restore the blood flow to your heart, the procedure was a success. After a successful bypass, the surgeon will close the incision. After surgery, you will stay in intensive care until you show signs of good recovery.
Your recovery from open heart surgery may take anywhere from 6 days to 6 months. When you are stable, you can go home. You will have to follow home care instructions. These will include how to care for your incision, getting plenty of rest and not straining yourself with physical activities.
Make sure to have a dedicated caregiver at your side during the crucial weeks that follow. If you develop signs of possible complications, such as fever, severe chest pain, bleeding in the area of the incision, irregular or rapid heartbeat, call your doctor immediately.
Remember, open heart surgery may give you a second chance to live a better life. Do your part by living a healthy lifestyle to keep your heart ticking for a longer time.