Heart Surgery
Heart Surgery

Heart Surgery Risks

Like any surgery, heart surgery has risks. Your provider will talk with you about the benefits and risks of your procedure before you have surgery. Risks will vary depending on the heart problem, type of surgery, and your overall health. Some risks include:

  • Arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats)
  • Bleeding
  • Blood clots that can cause stroke or venous thromboembolism (VTE)
  • Damage to tissues including the heart, kidneys, liver, and lungs
  • Infection, fever, swelling, or other signs of inflammation at the incision site
  • Memory loss and other issues, such as problems concentrating or thinking clearly, which often improve within a year after surgery
  • Pneumonia

Death is also a risk of heart surgery. However, heart surgery is more likely to be life-threatening in people who are very sick before the surgery.

In general, the risk of complications is higher if heart surgery is done in an emergency situation (for example, during a heart attack). The risk is also higher if you have other diseases or conditions, such as diabetes, kidney disease, lung disease, or peripheral artery disease (PAD).

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