My mother is 72 years old and just underwent having both of her carotid arteries cleaned out so she will not stroke during her upcoming open heart surgery. She has 6 blockages, the surgeon told us her heart is severely diseased and they are scheduling her open heart surgery for the 6 bypass next week. Of course we all hope for the best outcome during surgery, however the surgeon told us that he is really worried. We are just wondering how dangerous all this is? What her chances of surving the surgery are.?
Bypass surgery always carries a risk, but to calculate it is really difficult. The trouble is, there are far too many parameters to incorporate. For example, how diseased are the arteries, how weak is the heart, what is the general condition of the patient, what experience does the surgeon have. There are lots of factors but putting a value on them is virtually impossible. However, if the surgeon says he is very worried, this would cause alarm bells to ring in my head. Is he experienced enough? has he looked at ALL options? Why is he worried so much?
You say there are 6 blockages, but can't ANY of them be stented to make the heart stronger for surgery?
One of the biggest risks is infection post surgery. The operation is traumatic to the body and any existing infection can quickly take over. For example, a small infection in the lungs can very quickly turn into life threatening pneumonia. If your Mother has recently had a chest infection then I would ensure they know about this.
Before agreeing to any surgery I would certainly be asking a lot of question though. I had a totally blocked left artery and my bypass only survived 3 months before collapsing. I approached many Cardiologist who said stenting it would carry a 1 in 5 chance of death, so they refused. After 2 years of searching, I went to a research hospital in London where I met with their top Cardiologist with over 30 years experience. He was kinda scary at first, very sure of himself, and I wondered if he was OVER sure. He just laughed and said "I have to give a risk, so I'll just say 1%". He said "I'm not allowed by law to say 0%". Anyway he did the job many others were too scared to attempt. So experience counts for a lot.
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