Heart surgery may seem like one of the most daunting treatments you can have. After all, the heart is the powerful machine that keeps your body running. If you live to be 80, it will beat more than 3 billion times. But, while heart surgery is serious, you may find it reassuring to know that it’s also a field that has attracted some of surgery’s greatest pioneers—and their innovations have made routine work out of treating conditions that would have once been fatal.
Thousands of heart surgeries are performed every day in the United States. Many patients have excellent results—not only do patients survive longer than they used to, they enjoy a good quality of life.
“One of the most gratifying things we see in heart surgery is when an operation changes a patient's life,” says Arnar Geirsson, MD, chief of cardiac surgery for Yale Medicine. “While an operation’s success depends on many factors, the most important thing I've learned is that the heart is resilient and so are patients. Sometimes, you can take people who are very, very sick and turn things around dramatically.”