Heart Surgery

Published On 01/21/2013

It’s great if you can keep your heart healthy—by not smoking, eating a healthy diet, and getting regular physical activity. But what if you end up needing heart surgery? What should you know about the procedure?

Coronary artery bypass (heart bypass) is just one form of heart surgery. Others include heart valve repair or replacement; arrhythmia surgery, which helps restore regularity of the heart’s natural rhythm; and aneurysm repair to replace weakened sections of a blood vessel or the heart with a graft.

New technologies have reduced surgery and recovery times and make heart surgery an option for even some of the sickest patients.

After being in use for nearly 30 years, for example, coronary artery bypass surgery is now the most frequently performed major surgery in the United States, with more than 500,000 procedures done each year. Advances also have reduced recovery time and heart-surgery-related risks for stroke and spinal cord injury.

Reduced recovery time is particularly important to older patients because a few months can take a big chunk out of their remaining years of life. So is the reduced risk for stroke or other major complications.

Open heart surgery is any surgery where the chest is opened and surgery is performed on the heart muscle, valves, arteries, or other heart structures. The term "open" refers to the chest, not the heart itself. The heart may or may not be opened, depending on the type of surgery.

Minimally invasive heart surgery reduces the size of the incision, the recovery time, and risk to the patient.

To find a heart surgeon in Memphis, Tennessee, please use our physician locator or call 888.777.5959.