Open-heart surgery: Asking right questions before operation

Getting more information on surgery may alleviate nervousness

SAN ANTONIO – Learning you need open-heart surgery can bring on fear and lots of questions, so getting a lot of information prior to surgery can go a long way in helping you prepare.

Hundreds of thousands of open-heart surgeries are performed successfully every year.  The mortality rate is almost half of what it was in 1990, but many patients still get nervous.

“They’re going to, you know, open up your chest, and they are going to fix something in your heart, often while your heart is stopped,” said Lauren F. Friedman, health editor for Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports says asking your surgeon the right questions can help you approach your operation with confidence.

Some of the important questions to ask your surgeon include the following:

  • Do I really need this surgery?

  • What are my other treatment options?

  • How many open-heart surgeries have you performed?

  • Do you have any results you can share with me?

Dr. David Adams, a cardiac surgeon in chief, spends about an hour with each new patient, walking them through the steps of the surgery and telling them what the recommended procedure will accomplish and why they need it done.

“I like to show them their actual anatomy and compare it to normal anatomy so they really understand what their disease is and, I think, when they understand that, I think a lot of the fear leaves them,” Adams said.

Adams said it’s important to ask the doctor about his or her experience, specifically with the exact type of surgery you need.

Patients should also ask about what happens after surgery.

People can connect with other patients through the American Heart Association’s support network.

About the Author: