1What are the heart valves?
There are four valves which control the blood flow through the heart. They all consist of two or three flaps which swing open to allow blood through with each heart beat, and swing closed to prevent blood going back in the wrong direction.
2What is a heart attack?
A heart attack is an event that can damage your heart. Sometimes, it can be life-threatening, even fatal. Occasionally, someone may have a heart attack and not even know it. The cause of most heart attacks is a sudden clot in a blood vessel that feeds the heart. This blood vessel may be filled with fat and a substance called “plaque” that slows blood flow in the artery or eventually breaks open, causing a clot that stops blood flow to an area of your heart muscle.
3What does heart surgery involve?
If an operation is thought to be necessary, one of the Cardiac Surgeons will discuss the proposed surgery with the child’s parents. Sometimes, an operation will be needed urgently in the first few weeks after birth. When there is no major urgency, the operation will usually be performed at the earliest stage with the lowest possible risk, and well before there is likely to be any irreversible damage to the heart, lungs or other organs as a result of the heart problem. This is likely to be within the first one to two years of life in most cases, unless the problem is detected later or does not merit an operation until an older age. Until this time is reached, periodic reviews will be carried out so that any change may be detected and plans altered if necessary.
4Can there be complications from heart surgery?
Complications from surgery may arise, but with improvements in technology, in surgical procedures and with more surgery being performed at a younger age, the risk of complications is continually being reduced.
The possible complications are related to the specific type of surgery being performed and they vary widely depending on the nature of the problem which requires surgery.
5When should I be referred to a Cardiologist?
Any time you have a significant heart or related condition, you may require the attention of a cardiologist. Symptoms like shortness of breath, chest pains, or dizzy spells often require special testing. Heart murmurs or ECG changes are best evaluated by a cardiologist. Most importantly, cardiologists treat heart attacks, heart failure, and serious heart rhythm disturbances. Their skills and training are required for decisions about heart catheterization, balloon angioplasty, heart surgery, and other procedures.