Heart procedures and what they involve

The heart circulates blood throughout the body. If a person’s heart isn’t working properly, they may need to have a cardiac procedure as part of their therapy.

Some heart diseases can be controlled with medicine and a change in lifestyle. Others, on the other hand, may need surgery.

There are several procedures that can aid in the treatment of cardiac problems and perhaps save lives. They vary from angioplasty, which opens blocked arteries, to heart transplants, in which a physician replaces a patient’s heart with a donor organ.

We’ll look at several common cardiac procedures and why a doctor would prescribe them in this post.

Cardiac catheterization

Cardiac

A doctor can use cardiac catheterization to check how well the heart is working and see whether there is any illness of the heart muscle, valves, or coronary arteries.

A right heart catheterization is used by doctors to examine the pressure and function of the heart. On the other hand, a left heart catheterization allows doctors to inspect arteries.

The procedure

During cardiac catheterization, a person usually remains awake. A sedative may be given by a nurse to keep the patient quiet throughout the surgery.

After that, the nurse will clean and shave a region close to an artery or vein. This might be on the groin, elbow, wrist, or neck, depending on whether a doctor is doing a left or right catheterization.

To numb the region, a medical expert will use a local anesthetic. A doctor will next place a straw-like catheter into the blood vessel of choice. The catheter will next be guided through the tube and into the body. They’ll use a video screen to guide the catheter to the heart.

Cardiac catheterization can be used for a variety of procedures, including:

  • angiography, which allows them to see blockages in arteries
  • biopsy, which involves taking a small tissue sample for examination
  • stenting, which involves opening up narrow arteries using a small metal tube
  • measuring pressure and oxygen levels

Recovery

It simply takes a few hours to recover from this operation. If the catheter was inserted into a blood vessel in the groin, the patient may need to lie down for a bit.

They must follow the doctor’s aftercare instructions and take any medications prescribed by the doctor once they leave the hospital.

Pacemakers

A pacemaker is a device implanted in the chest by surgeons. When the heart is beating irregularly or too slowly, it sends an electrical signal to make it beat at the proper rate.

The procedure

It takes 1–2 hours to finish the pacemaker implantation procedure. Cardiologists can execute the procedure in two ways, with transvenous implantation being the more frequent.

A local anesthetic will be administered first, then the area below the left collarbone will be cleaned. The pacemaker wires will next be inserted into a vein through an incision made by a cardiologist. They’ll use an X-ray to route the cables to a heart chamber.

The pacemaker device, which the cardiologist will implant between the skin and muscle in the upper chest, is attached to the other end of these cables.

Implantable cardioverter defibrillators can be implanted in the same fashion or placed beneath the skin on the left side of the chest.

Recovery

After having a pacemaker, most people stay in the hospital overnight and recover for one day.

Depending on the nature of their profession, people may usually return to their normal activities, such as working, within a week. For 4–6 weeks, they may need to avoid strenuous activities that require reaching up.

Stents and angioplasty

Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) is a procedure that opens blocked or constricted coronary arteries. This procedure was formerly referred to as an angioplasty with stent by medical professionals. A stent is a tiny metal mesh tube that keeps the artery open and prevents it from shutting again.

The procedure

A local anesthetic will be administered by a medical practitioner before to the PCI. A doctor will catheterize the afflicted artery and then thread a tiny wire through it. The wire allows the doctor to insert a balloon into the artery, which then inflates.

The balloon’s pressure pushes any fat deposits towards the artery wall, allowing more space for blood to circulate. If the doctor is also placing a stent, they will do it simultaneously. The stent wraps around the balloon, growing as the balloon grows and remaining in place after the balloon is deflated and removed by the doctor.

The procedure takes 30–120 minutes in total.

Recovery

The average time it takes to recover depends on the reason for the PCI.

If the stress test findings are abnormal, the procedure will usually be discharged the same day or the next day. They will need to stay in the hospital for many days if they have suffered a heart attack.

After a PCI, heavy lifting, driving, and intense activity must be avoided for at least one week.

Catheter ablation

Arrhythmias, or fast or irregular heartbeats, can be treated using catheter ablation. Radiofrequency radiation is used in catheter ablation to eliminate the cardiac tissue that causes arrhythmia. The normal heart rhythm generally recovers after that.

Doctors employ this procedure when a person’s body cannot handle or the drugs are unsuccessful for their ailment.

The procedure

Catheter ablation is comparable to cardiac catheterization in terms of procedure. A doctor will also introduce wires, or electrode catheters, after putting the catheter via a blood artery in the groin.

The doctor will use the electrode catheters to identify the tissue producing the erratic pulse once they reach the heart. They’ll achieve this by sending out a little electrical signal. Other catheters measure the effect on the heart’s tissues.

The doctor will next route the catheter to the cause of the problem tissue and eliminate it with painless radiofrequency energy. It takes 2–4 hours to complete the procedure.

Recovery

After catheter ablation, the leg must be kept straight for 6–8 hours after the incision has been made. People usually go home later that day or stay in the hospital overnight after this.

After this procedure, it is normal for a person to need to take aspirin or another blood thinner for 2–4 weeks to assist avoid clot formation.

People may usually resume their normal activities after 24 hours, although they should avoid vigorous exercise for several days.

Transplants

A heart transplant may be required if an individual develops heart failure due to the failure of one or both ventricles. This is a significant procedure in which a person’s heart is replaced with a donor organ.

The procedure

Heart transplants need general anesthesia, which renders the patient unconscious during the procedure. During surgery, a heart-lung bypass machine substitutes the heart and keeps oxygenated blood circulating throughout the body.

To separate the ribs, a surgeon will first create an incision in the chest skin and cut through the breastbone. They will next cut through the aorta, superior and inferior vena cava, and the major pulmonary artery to remove the patient’s heart.

Next, they will divide the left atrium, leaving its back wall in place with the pulmonary vein openings. The donor heart will be connected to the aorta, vena cava, and left atrium by the surgeon. The heart should then begin to beat normally, and the heart-lung bypass equipment will no longer be required.

The surgeon will use metal wire to keep the breastbone in place and stitches to seal the incision in the skin.

Recovery

An individual who has had a heart transplant will need to stay in an intensive care unit for a while.

They are usually admitted to the hospital for up to three weeks and begin immunosuppressive therapy to prevent the body from rejecting the donor organ. Transplant recipients must take these medications for the rest of its life.

It takes many months for a person to recover, during which time they will require regular checkups and monitoring.

Heart bypass surgery and valve replacement or repair are two more forms of heart surgery.

Conclusion

In order to aid with heart issues and restore optimum cardiac health, doctors can conduct a variety of procedures on the heart.

Angioplasty or stenting procedure, for example, restore normal blood flow to the heart while preventing arteries from narrowing again.

Other procedures include the implantation of a device to help with heart function, such as a pacemaker. These devices aid in the treatment of arrhythmias by ensuring that the heart beats at a regular rate.

Each procedure has a different recovery period. Some procedures allow for immediate discharge, while others necessitate a stay in the hospital for many weeks.

Sources

  • https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/arrhythmia/prevention–treatment-of-arrhythmia/ablation-for-arrhythmias
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/heart-procedures
  • https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-attack/diagnosing-a-heart-attack/cardiac-catheterization
  • https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronary-angioplasty/
  • https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/congenital-heart-defects/care-and-treatment-for-congenital-heart-defects/heart-transplant
  • https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/heart-transplant
  • https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pacemaker-implantation/
  • https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/pacemakers