What Is a Cardiac Surgeon?

A cardiac surgeon or cardiovascular surgeon is a cardiothoracic surgeon specializing in operating on the heart, its valves and structures, and the crucial veins and arteries near it. General cardiothoracic surgeons focus on all of the organs of the upper abdomen, including the lungs, esophagus, and heart. Cardiac surgeons work only with the heart.

Additionally, a congenital heart surgeon is a cardiac surgeon who specializes in surgery for congenital heart defects, meaning the fault is present from birth. These surgeries are usually for infants and children, but sometimes adults too.

Cardiac surgeons are not cardiologists or doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating heart disease. Cardiologists typically refer people to a cardiac surgeon when the need arises because most cardiologists do not perform heart surgeries themselves. They generally perform diagnostic tests and help people manage chronic heart conditions. They may perform more minor surgical procedures like placing stents to keep arteries open.

What Does a Cardiac Surgeon Do?

Cardiac surgeons perform surgery on the heart, the aorta, the pulmonary vein, and other vital structures related to cardiac health. They do not typically diagnose heart disease. Before visiting a surgeon, you may already have a diagnosis from a cardiologist. After determining that you need surgery, they will refer you to a cardiac surgeon.

A cardiac surgeon will monitor your condition directly after surgery. Once you are recovering at home, though, you will typically return to the care of your cardiologist.

Education and Training

Cardiac surgeons attend medical school for four years. Following this, they complete a general surgical residency that lasts between five and seven years. The residence is a training period in which a more experienced surgeon supervises the resident.

After residency, a cardiac surgeon must train for an additional two to four years, focusing. 

What Conditions Does a Cardiac Surgeon Treat?

Coronary Artery Blockage

The buildup of cholesterol and plaque (fatty deposits) in the arteries carrying blood to your heart can lead to blockages. When the jam gets too large, the constriction of the artery may result in a heart attack. Your primary care doctor or cardiologist may detect blockages before a heart attack occurs. In this case, they may refer you to a cardiac surgeon to repair the arteries.

However, some people discover they have a coronary artery blockage when they have a heart attack. Seek medical attention right away if you’re experiencing symptoms of a heart attack, which include:

  • Chest pain & pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Excessive Sweating
  • Nausea and heartburn

If you do experience a heart attack, you may need surgery to repair your coronary arteries to prevent another one from happening.

Heart Valve Disease

The four valves of your heart allow blood to flow in the proper direction, keeping the heart working as it should. However, there are several types of heart valve defects that a cardiac surgeon can correct. Some of these are congenital. Others can develop in adulthood from infections or other health issues.

  • Stenosis is a heart valve defect in which the flaps of the valves become stiff and may even fuse. This causes reduced blood flow due to a narrowing of the valve.
  • Prolapse in a heart valve causes regurgitation, meaning some blood leaks backward after being pushed through the valve.
  • Atresia is a congenital valve defect in which the valve is formed as a continuous sheet with no opening.

Aortic Aneurysm

Aortic aneurysms weaken the aorta, the vital artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of your body. It causes a bulge in the artery, which may lead to dissection or rupture. 

In an aortic dissection, blood leaks in between the weakened layers of the artery wall. In a rupture, the aneurysm bursts, leaking blood into the body.

There are two types of aortic aneurysms. An abdominal aortic aneurysm occurs below the chest. Hardened arteries usually cause it. A thoracic one happens in the chest and is generally caused by high blood pressure or an injury.

Cardiac surgeons can repair aortic aneurysms, whether a diagnosis occurs before the event or after. However, repair for a rupture or dissection is emergency surgery. Surgery for an aortic aneurysm that has not yet ruptured is still urgent but can be scheduled for the near future.

Heart Failure

Heart failure, also known as congestive heart failure, has several possible causes including high blood pressure and blocked arteries. It is the weakening and stiffening of your heart. It may come on gradually or suddenly. 

Treatment for heart failure depends on the cause. Sometimes, changing lifestyle factors like diet and exercise can reverse heart failure, or improve the symptoms. In other cases, you will need cardiac surgery. Your cardiologist will help you decide which treatment options are best for you.

Irregular Heartbeat (Heart Arrhythmia)

Irregular heartbeats occur when there is a disturbance in the electrical impulses that control your heart. It results in fluttering heartbeats or a heart rate that is too slow or too fast.

Heart arrhythmias don’t always require surgery. In fact, some instances of irregular heartbeat do not require treatment at all. However, certain cases are best treated with the surgical implantation of a pacemaker or implantable defibrillator. These devices regulate the electric currents in your body to create a more regular heartbeat. 

Reasons to See a Cardiac Surgeon

Typically, you will only see a cardiac surgeon if a cardiologist recommends it. A cardiologist will diagnose your condition and determine if you need surgery. If you do, they will refer you to a cardiac surgeon. In some cases, a different type of doctor, like a pulmonologist or gastroenterologist may make the recommendation, depending on the condition.

A need for cardiac surgery is the only reason to see a cardiac surgeon. Your cardiologist will otherwise help you manage your overall heart health.

## **Defining Cardiac Surgeons and Their‍ Role in Cardiovascular Health:**

**Q: Who Is a Cardiac⁢ Surgeon?**

**A:** A cardiac surgeon, also known as a cardiovascular surgeon, is ⁢a medical professional specializing in diagnosing and treating⁤ conditions related to the heart and blood vessels. ⁢They perform complex surgical interventions, encompassing a range of heart surgeries, to restore or improve the health of patients with cardiovascular diseases.

**Q: What Is the Key Role of Cardiac Surgeons?**

**A:** Cardiac surgeons play a critical role in managing and treating cardiovascular diseases that require surgical intervention. Their primary responsibilities include:

– ⁢**Surgical Intervention:** Performing intricate‍ surgical procedures, such as coronary bypass grafting, valve ⁢repair or replacement, and ​heart transplant, to address cardiovascular problems.

– **Diagnostic Evaluations:** Accurately diagnosing and evaluating heart conditions through comprehensive examinations, medical imaging ⁣techniques, and diagnostic tests.

– **Patient Care:** Providing‌ comprehensive care before, during, and⁣ after surgical procedures, ensuring optimal patient outcomes ⁤and recovery.

**Q: What Expertise​ Do ​Cardiac Surgeons Possess?**

**A:** Cardiac surgeons​ possess extensive knowledge and refined skills in​ the following areas:

– **Cardiovascular Physiology:**⁣ In-depth understanding of the anatomy, physiology, and function of the heart and blood vessels.

-​ **Surgical Techniques:** Mastery of⁢ advanced surgical techniques for both open-heart surgeries‍ and minimally invasive procedures.

– ⁤**Critical Decision-Making:** Capability to make swift and accurate decisions during complex surgical interventions.

**Q: What Conditions Do Cardiac Surgeons Typically Treat?**

**A:** Cardiac surgeons commonly address a wide range of cardiovascular conditions, including:

– **Coronary Artery Disease:** Narrowing or blockage of ​the coronary arteries, requiring bypass grafting ⁣or stenting.

– **Valvular Heart Disease:** Damaged or malfunctioning heart valves, necessitating repair or replacement.

– **Congenital Heart Defects:** Preexisting structural ​abnormalities ​in the heart present from birth, requiring surgical correction.

– **Aortic Aneurysms:** Bulges or enlargements⁣ in the aorta, necessitating surgical repair to prevent complications.

**Q:⁣ How Can Cardiac ​Surgeons Enhance Patient Outcomes?**

**A:** Cardiac surgeons contribute to improved patient‌ outcomes through:

– **Precision ⁣and Expertise:** Executing procedures with precision and skill,⁤ minimizing⁢ surgical complications and improving overall‍ outcomes.

– **Advanced Techniques:** Employing minimally invasive techniques, leading to shorter hospital stays, reduced scarring,⁣ and ‌quicker recovery times.

– **Specialized‌ Care:** Coordinating with a ⁤multidisciplinary team of cardiologists, anesthesiologists, and nurses to provide comprehensive patient care.

**Q:​ How Can Individuals Locate Qualified ​Cardiac Surgeons?**

**A:** Patients seeking ​a cardiac surgeon⁢ should consider the ‍following:

– **Credentials:**⁢ Confirm the ‍surgeon’s board certification and credentials, as well‍ as their experience and qualifications.

– **Hospital Affiliation:** Investigate the surgeon’s affiliations with reputable hospitals or⁣ medical centers that offer advanced cardiovascular care.

– **Patient Reviews:** Read online reviews‍ and testimonials from past patients to gain insights into ‍the surgeon’s bedside manner and surgical ⁤expertise.

– **Second Opinions:** Seek multiple opinions from various cardiac ‌surgeons to gather a comprehensive understanding of treatment options and recommendations.

One comment

  1. Bonjour, tous d’abord je vous remercie pour toutes ses informations, une très bonne explication qui nous aide a être bien orientée.
    moi, je soufre d’un rétrécissement mitrale depuis mon jeune age causé par des angines malade inaperçu et non traitée, j’aimerai, si possible bien sur, avoir plus information sur cette maladie.
    Bonne continuation.

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