Being diagnosed or living with a heart condition is a stressful situation for the patient and family members. The only way to reduce this stress and attain peace of mind is to gain knowledge about the different options and available approaches to treatment and deciding which one is the best for the patient. And the best way to do so is to opt for a cardiology second opinion that reviews the existing information and brings forth any additional evaluation that may be needed for better treatment. A second opinion helps to identify the available options and deliver a safe and effective care plan that is suitable for the patient.
A cardiology second opinion not only provides peace of mind but also helps to prevent unnecessary procedures and offer alternative options of treatment when facing a serious medical situation such as a heart bypass surgery, cardiac catheterization or surgery for valvular heart disease.
Reasons To Get Second Opinion For Cardiology
There Are Various Reasons For Patients To Opt For A Cardiology Second Opinion
- Patients who have undergone heart surgery and are currently experiencing new symptoms
- A patient who has been suggested to go for major surgery, but want to know if more minimally invasive procedures or treatments could be considered instead
- Patients may seek a second opinion for less major procedures such as pacemaker placement because it will make them more confident before going ahead with the procedure.
- When a physician presents several treatment options and asks the patient to choose the one which he prefers
- Patients may want to know if their present medication regime is the best source of treatment for them
- Patients who feel that their symptoms are not being addressed properly
- If a patient feels pressured to agree to a particular treatment when he is unsure that the treatment is the right one for him
- Patients who simply want to ensure all the latest advancement in medical and surgical treatment are being considered by his present doctor
Major Heart Surgeries that Require Cardiology Second Opinion
Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting
It is the most common type of heart surgery that is done to treat people with severe coronary heart disease. It helps to improve blood flow to the heart. In the case of coronary heart, disease plaque builds up inside the coronary arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart. Hardened plaque narrows the arteries and reduces blood flow to the heart and can cause chest pain and angina. It can also lead to blood clot formation, the most common cause of heart attack. During Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting, a healthy vein from the body is grafted to the blocked coronary artery. The grafted vein bypasses the blocked portion of the coronary artery and forms a new path for oxygen-rich blood to reach the heart muscles.
[Also Read: Question To Ask Cardiologist After Heart Attack]
Heart Valve Repair or Replacement
Surgery for heart valve repair or replacement is used to fix the leaflets that fail to close tightly. For optimum functioning of the heart, the blood must flow in only one direction and the heart valves make this possible. The valves are open and close in a particular way to maintain the blood flow. When a leaflet in the valve fails to close tightly is causes the blood to leak back into the heart chambers. Surgeons can either repair the valve or replace it with an artificial or biological valve.
During mitral or pulmonary valve repair, the cardiologist inserts a catheter through a blood vessel and guides it to the heart. The cardiologist places the end of the catheter inside the valve and inflates and deflates a small balloon at the tip of the catheter to widen the valve, thus allowing more blood flow through it. Although, surgery to replace the valve is the traditional treatment catheter procedures are a safer option for patients who cannot opt for open-heart surgery.
A heart transplant surgery involves removing a patient’s diseased heart and replacing it with a healthy heart from a deceased donor. In most cases, a heart transplant is done on patients who have end-stage heart failure. In the case of heart failure, the patient’s heart is extremely weak or damaged and it can’t pump enough blood to meet the needs of the body.
Arrhythmia Treatment (Pacemaker Placement)
Arrhythmia is a heart problem related to the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat. The heart can beat too fast or too slow or with an irregular rhythm in case of arrhythmia. In certain cases, arrhythmia can be serious and even life-threatening because the heart may be unable to pump enough blood to the body which in turn can damage the brain, heart and other organs. Treatment for arrhythmia involves implantation of a pacemaker
A pacemaker is a small device that is placed under the skin of the chest and wires connect the pacemaker to the heart chambers. The device controls heart rhythm using low-energy electrical pulses. The sensor present in the pacemaker starts the device when the heart rhythm is abnormal.
Surgery To Place Ventricular Assist Devices or Total Artificial Hearts
A Ventricular Assist Device is almost like a mechanical pump that supports heart function and blood flow in people with weak hearts. Your doctor may recommend a Ventricular Assist Device if you have heart failure or your condition is not responding to treatment. A Ventricular Assist Device can be used for a short time or for a prolonged period depending on the patient’s condition.
A Total Artificial Heart is a device that replaces the two lower chambers of the heart. It supports the heart when both the ventricles fail to work due to end-stage heart failure. Placing these devices involve open-heart surgery.
Open-heart surgery is a major surgery in which a large incision is made in the chest to open the rib cage and operate on the heart. Although, most open heart surgeries involves opening the chest, but the surgeon may also open the heart depending on the type of surgery. Once the chest is opened, the patient is connected to a heart-lung bypass machine that controls the heart’s pumping action and moves away blood from the heart.
Open-heart surgery is used for Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting, repairing or replacing heart valves, treating artificial fibrillation, doing heart transplants and placing Ventricular Assist Devices or Total Artificial Hearts.
Getting a cardiology second opinion before undergoing these major surgeries and procedures will help you to understand whether you really need the surgery recommended by your doctor or are there any advanced and safer procedures and non-surgical options that may be suitable for you.
[cl-review quote=”Medically Reviewed By” author=”Dr. Kaushal M. Bhavsar (MBBS, MD)” occupation=”Assistant Professor in Pulmonary Medicine, GMERS Medical College, Ahmedabad” avatar_image=”1325″ source=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.linkedin.com%2Fin%2Fdr-kaushal-bhavsar-a8137355%2F|target:_blank”]