Before You have Heart Surgery: March 31, 2019

Before you come to surgery, there are many steps patients need to take. “The first step in evaluating a patient is to make sure is it appropriate to have surgery or not, and is there anything we can do to lower their risk for surgery?” said Dr. Paul DiGiorgi, a cardiothoracic surgeon with Lee Health.

Cardiothoracic surgeons not only evaluate the patient’s heart but also their overall health. “We’re trying to optimize things that might not be so up to speed on patients when they first come in to see us. Some of those could be lung disease, other patients come in malnourished and need nutritional supplements, other patients come in anemic, other patients come in with chronic kidney disease,” said Dr. DiGiorgi.

If a patient has other untreated health concerns, surgeons will refer them to the right specialist to get treatment before heart surgery.  “We delay surgery for weeks while patients get in better shape for surgery. That’s a very important concept especially with heart valve disease because the risk factors you bring into the operating room typically are ones you had preoperatively,” he explained.

The healthier a patient is before surgery, the better outcome they will have after surgery. Doctors encourage patients to stop smoking, maintain a healthy diet, and increase their physical activity. “In patients who are in relatively good shape coming into the operation, complications that we should see are less than one percent of the time,” said Dr. DiGiorgi.

And life after surgery should be better. “Patients should be able to resume the life they had before surgery and be better than that now that the heart is fixed,” he said.

Evaluating the overall health of the patient helps to ensure they have a healthy and speedy recovery after surgery.