Risks of Open Heart Surgery

Open heart surgery is often needed to treat cardiovascular diseases. There are numerous open heart surgery complications that can occur during and after the procedure. However, if open heart surgery is not performed, many of the cardiovascular diseases can cause death. Depending on the type of open heart surgery performed, the risks of the procedure can increase. Any form of open heart surgery poses certain risks along with the general risks of surgery.

Heart Complications

Open heart surgery complications can include damage to the heart. The tissues of the heart can become damaged during the procedure due to lack of blood flow. This is called Ischemic heart damage.

Risks of open heart surgery also include developing an abnormal heart rhythm. Often, this condition is temporary, but it can become permanent. If this is the case, an internal pacemaker may be needed.

Blood Complications

There are many complications that can occur with the blood from open heart surgery. A common problem that occurs with this procedure is bleeding from the incision site. If a large quantity of blood is lost during or after the procedure a blood transfusion may be needed.

Blood clots are another complication that can occur from this procedure. The clots can form in and around the heart.They can then break away and travel through the blood streams to other areas of the body.

A serious complication that can occur is cardiac tamponade. This is a serious condition that causes the sac surrounding the heart to fill with blood. This condition makes it extremely difficult for the heart to function properly.

Other Complications

Many other complications can occur from open heart surgery. Death is a risk of open heart surgery. Often, an emergency surgery may be needed to repair any damages caused by the open heart surgery.

Risks of open heart surgery also include stroke. A stroke after heart surgery usually occurs from blood clots that have formed after the surgery. Strokes pose their own complications, including brain damage.

General Surgery Risks

Every surgery poses certain risks and complications. One risk of every surgical procedure is a complication with anesthesia. Patients may have allergic reactions to anesthesia. There is also the risk that the anesthesia will not work and the patient will actually wake up during the procedure.


Every surgery holds the risk of infection. Patients that undergo open heart surgery are more susceptible to infection than those undergoing other procedures. Infections can develop in the blood or at the incision site. To reduce the risk of infection, antibiotics are usually given before and after the procedure.


Even with the simplest medical procedure, death is always a risk. Although death during open heart surgery is not common, it is also not an extremely rare occurrence. It is important to evaluate the benefits and risks of open heart surgery before making a decision.

Open heart surgery can often be the only way to save a patients life, especially if they are suffering from cardiovascular diseases. Although there are numerous risks associated with open heart surgery, it is important to discuss all your concerns with a health professional before making a decision.



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