Heart disease is the top cause of death in the United States, killing over 600,000 people a year. There are many factors to heart disease, but you may wind up needing the help of a cardiovascular surgeon and the heart services they can provide. Many people realize they need to see a cardiologist after a trip to the emergency room, but if you have a family history of heart disease, you should be monitoring your heart health closely. Lifestyle changes — such as exercise, improved healthy eating habits, quitting smoking, etc., — and medicines should always be tried before heart surgery, as they can make a huge difference in whether or not you need the services of a cardiovascular surgeon. However, it’s important to know what services they offer, when you might need them, and what steps you can take on your own to have a healthy heart.
How Can I Keep My Heart Healthy?
Keeping your cholesterol and blood pressure down is a good start, as is maintaining a healthy weight. Making sure you’re getting enough exercise and are eating healthy can help you obtain these goals. Smoking — and breathing in secondhand smoke — can be bad for your heart, as is excessive consumption of alcohol. Taking measures to manage your stress levels can also help.
You should be paying extra attention to your heart health if you already have high blood pressure or cholesterol, or have a family history of heart disease. ur age and family history also affect your risk for heart disease. If you’re a man over the age of 45 or a woman over the age of 55, you’re also more likely to be higher risk. Monitoring your heart health is a great step towards reducing your risk and making sure you stay healthy.
What Does a Cardiovascular Surgeon Do?
A cardiovascular surgeon focuses on surgery that pertains to your heart and blood vessels. They work to fix damage wrought by diseases or ailments of your cardiovascular system, such as heart disease. You generally are put into the hands of a cardiovascular surgeon through the recommendation of first your primary care doctor, and then a cardiologist.
There are all types of operations that cardiovascular surgeons do, such as repairing and replacing heart valves, fixing heart defects, conducting a coronary artery bypass, or transplanting hearts. They can also implant ventricular assist devices, should you have a failing heart and need a little extra assistance.
When Might I Need Heart Surgery?
If your heart is failing or you have coronary heart disease or need a heart transplant, you’ll be referred to a cardiovascular surgeon. Complicated cases might be referred to a heart hospital that just deals with heart issues. If you have heart valves that aren’t working as they should be or have ongoing arrhythmias that your cardiologist deems concerning, you may also be referred for heart surgery. And, of course, you’ll need heart surgery if you need a medical device, such as a pacemaker or ventricular assist device implanted.
How Can I Prepare for Heart Surgery?
Every doctor will recommend that you be as healthy as possible before undergoing a surgical operation. Your body will have a lot of healing to do afterwards, and if it’s already working to fight off other illnesses, it will go much slower, and you could be more susceptible to getting sick while you recover. If you’re a smoker, you’ll need to stop for at least two weeks before your surgery, as it can cause breathing issues or blood clotting.
You’ll be asked to not eat or drink 24 hours before your surgery and you should bring a list of medicines you’re taking (such as aspirin) or that have been prescribed to you, along with your dosage and frequency. Your cardiologist or surgeon may also give you other additional instructions, which you should also closely follow.
You always want to be taking care of your heart health, but if you must seek medical care, it’s good to know who to trust and what to expect.