Anatomy


The Emotional Side Effects of Open-Heart Surgery

Open heart surgery is one of the most invasive and stressful procedures doctors perform. To expose the heart for major repairs, a long incision in the chest is made, the breast bone is broken, and a heart-lung machine is used to pump blood in place of the heart. All of this places great stress on your body. Open heart surgery is not minimally invasive heart surgery. Living with, and through, the physical effects of open-heart surgery can be daunting. Included are pain at the incision site, muscle pain, or throat pain. If you have chest tubes for drainage, those can also be uncomfortable. Despite the discomfort, post-surgical pain usually disappears after 6 – 8 weeks. However, other kinds of problems can linger? The emotional side effects of open-heart surgery might surprise you.   Personality and Emotional Changes People who have had open heart surgery report mood changes, as do people close to them. Anxiety and depression are the most commonly experienced emotions after heart surgery. Anxiety can be caused, in part, by worries about possible physical aftereffects of the surgery. Keep in mind that full recovery from open heart surgery can take up to one year. Patients who experience depression for more than several weeks after open-heart surgery may have something more than a typical, post-surgical mood change. One way to tell is if a person has difficulty in doing simple, daily tasks, like making their bed, getting and staying properly dressed, or keeping a routine. If an individual was instructed to do certain tasks after the surgery such as exercise, are they doing them? Has the person withdrawn...

Exercise and Improving Heart Health

Exercise isn’t just for achieving big muscles. Exercise impacts heart health in a very important and fundamental way. To keep your heart healthy, you can strengthen the heart muscle by doing exercises. Relatedly, exercises for your heart will help lower your blood pressure. Heart exercise is something that needs to become as regular, and as unconscious, as breathing. Best Exercises of the Heart Heart exercises can be tailored to individual situations and many factors are taken into consideration before picking the best one. These factors include medical history, lifestyle, abilities, and preferences. If you are in poor shape, the exercise program will take that into account. It may be that your first exercise routine is walking if that is your current limit. After time, it can proceed to jogging and maybe even running. Even more strenuous activities, like jumping rope or weightlifting, can be added. The optimal time to perform an exercise is 30 minutes per session at least five days a week. Exercise Impacts on Heart To complement the best exercise for your heart, stretching and warming up are good activities to adopt. They prepare your muscles for exercise and reduce injury and muscle strain. Generally, the best exercises for the heart are aerobic exercises. The larger muscle groups are used so your heart rate will be quickly elevated. Because of this, you need to consult with a physician about your target (or safe maximum) heart rate. One way to informally gauge whether or not your exercise routine is too strenuous is if you are able to hold a conversation while exercising. If not, you might want to...

All About Mechanical Heart Valves

What is a Mechanical Heart Valve? A mechanical heart valve functions similarly to a tissue valve. Its purpose is to allow blood to flow through the heart by opening and closing with each heartbeat, just like a healthy heart valve. While tissue valves are made from animal tissue such as pig or cow, mechanical valves utilize materials such as pyrolytic carbon, titanium coated with pyrolytic carbon, Teflon, polyester, or dacron, depending on the specific valve and component of the valve. This makes mechanical heart valves more durable than tissue heart valves. Advantages of a Mechanical Heart Valve Because of their durability, mechanical heart valves are much longer lasting than tissue valves, which means you most likely won’t need a replacement further down the line. This isn’t the case with tissue valves, which typically need replacing after 10 to 18 years. It’s also important to consider which heart valve needs replacing. If the mitral valve (valve responsible for closing off the upper left chamber of the heart) requires a replacement, a mechanical heart valve is said to last until age 70. However, if it’s the aortic valve (valve that closes off the lower left heart chamber) that requires a replacement, mechanical heart valves are not as effective beyond age 55. Risks of a Mechanical Heart Valve One of the biggest risks of mechanical heart valves is the formation of blood clots on and around the valve. Sometimes, clots formed on the valve itself lead to the malfunctioning of the mechanical valve. Other times, these blood clots can break off and make their way to the brain, causing strokes. To prevent...