A residency for heart surgeons is usually 6-9 years training to be fully qualified as a surgeon. Training for cardiac surgery can be combined with vascular or thoracic surgery. A cardiac surgeon can go into residency straight from their medical school, or completing surgery residency which then is followed with a fellowship. They may further go into a fellowship for cardiac transplants, pediatric heart surgery, or acquired adult heart conditions.
Open heart surgery is done when repairing or replacing heart valves, heart bypass, atrial fibrillation, and heart transplants. (CABG) coronary artery bypass grafting, is the heart surgery type that is most common. Over 500,000 are done annually in the U.S., on people having a severe coronary heart disease. Plaque builds in the arteries and limits the blood flowing to the heart muscle, causing chest pain, heart attacks, or shortness of breath. Heart surgeons can perform multiple bypasses in one surgery. You can discuss the option of having angioplasty instead of CABG, where the surgeon uses a balloon to open blocked arteries and might put in a stint to support the walls of the affected artery. If no treatments are feasible, the cardiac surgeon may use the option of transmyocardial laser revasculation (TLR) but is uncommon.
Replacing or repairing heart valves is another type surgery done on the heart. When valves aren’t working properly, the surgeon has to repair or replace them. Heart valves are either replaced by valves of man-made materials, or from animal or human tissue. When the pulmonary or mitral valve is narrowed, a heart surgeon performs cardiac catherization. Arrhythmia is first treated with medications, but if that doesn’t work, surgery may be needed to put into place a pacemaker to control the rhythm of your heart.