by Carolyn Thomas ♥ @HeartSisters ♥ May 5, 2019
Open heart surgery. Is there any medical procedure in history so surrounded by genuine awe and surreal mystique? Cracking open the sternum to reveal the beating heart beneath, and then somehow trusting a heart-lung machine to temporarily take over the jobs of both the human heart and lungs – now, that’s heroic! But when it comes to explaining just how that happens, few of us might guess that the most compelling and straightforward description comes not from the world of medicine, but from the venerable magazine, Popular Mechanics.
Continue reading “Heading home tips following open heart surgery”
by Carolyn Thomas ♥ @HeartSisters
Scar image: Defective Heart Girl
Each surgical scar on my body tells a story. The big long one that tracks across my lower right abdomen tells of an appendix that ruptured on my 16th birthday – and the subsequent month I spent in hospital seriously ill with peritonitis and creepy drainage tubes. Two scars on my right knee tell of surgery after an unfortunate slide down a big pile of gravel. Another meandering zig zag tells of a nasty piece of broken glass once embedded into my left palm, its evidence exquisitely masked by the skilled plastic surgeon who sewed my hand back up.
Women who have survived open heart surgery sometimes have traumatic stories to tell about their very noticeable chest scars, and mixed emotions about whether “to hide or not to hide” this evidence of their cardiac history, particularly in the early weeks and months post-op. Continue reading “Learning to love your open heart surgery scar”
by Carolyn Thomas ♥ @HeartSisters
While the recent headlines about this new cardiac study suggest that a happy marriage can triple (and even quadruple!) your longterm survival chances after heart bypass surgery, there’s more behind this story than the wedded bliss angle.
Researchers from the University of Rochester tell us that happily married people who undergo coronary bypass surgery are three times more likely to be alive 15 years later compared to their unmarried counterparts. For happily married women, those odds can actually jump to four times higher.
But buried in the good news hype is another important fact: that for women who do not rate their marriage as happy, survival stats are virtually identical to those for unmarried women. Continue reading “Marriage triples our bypass surgery survival rates – but only if it’s happy”
Here’s how your heart looks during a coronary angiography procedure. The white/yellow blood vessels are bringing oxygenated blood to the working muscles of the heart. (See link below to the whole slide show).
Coronary angiography (also called cardiac catheterization) is sometimes referred to as the ‘gold standard’ of diagnostics for heart patients. The procedure involves threading a tiny catheter through an artery in the wrist or groin and pushing it up, up, up right into the beating heart. It’s considered to be an invasive procedure, but not surgical. Patients are sedated, but usually awake throughout.
The catheter is guided through the artery with the aid of a special x-ray machine. Contrast material (dye) is injected through the catheter and x-ray movies are created as the contrast material moves through the heart’s chambers, valves and major vessels.
The interventional cardiologists in the ‘cath lab’ then watch your beating heart up on the monitor, where they can spot any coronary arteries that are blocked or narrowed, and evaluate your heart function. If significant blockages are seen, further procedures like balloon angioplasty, stent implants or coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) – commonly known as bypass surgery – may be attempted to restore blood flow to the threatened heart muscle.
I’ve undergone two of these invasive cardiac procedures – the first an emergency catheterization and stent implant when I was hospitalized for a heart attack, the second 15 months later to investigate ongoing cardiac symptoms. And I can tell you that it is freakishly fascinating to lie on the cath lab table, sedated yet very awake, and watch your own beating heart on the overhead monitor. Continue reading “Inside your heart – as captured by National Geographic”