Understanding the need for cardiac valve surgery begins with knowledge of how the heart functions.
The human heart is a complex and intricate organ that serves a very important purpose - to pump blood throughout the body. Blood contains nutrients from food as well as oxygen from the lungs and carries these substances to the body's cells, nourishing them and allowing them to continue full functioning. It's important to eat a balanced, nutritious diet and avoid smoking for optimum nutrient intake and lung functioning. However, it's also important to understand how the heart functions and why it's important to take good care of it.
The heart is a muscle about the size of a closed fist that consists of four chambers - the upper two are called the left and right atrium and the lower two are called the left and right ventricles. Blood is pumped through the body, and as it becomes deoxygenated in completing its cycle it enters the right atrium and is pumped into the right ventricle. From there, blood is pumped through the tricuspid valve upward into the pulmonary artery, where it travels to the lungs for oxygenation. Oxygenated blood returns to the heart via the pulmonary veins and enters the left atrium. It is then pumped into the left ventricle, through the aortic semi lunar valve, and out of the heart through the aorta.
The valves of the heart are very important and prevent blood from flowing backward. Sometimes, defects or other medical problems can cause serious valve problems that must be corrected with cardiac valve surgery or valve replacement. The Heart Institute specializes in valve operations - particularly, in minimally invasive cardiac surgery procedures - with a team of over forty leading cardiologists. Seeking help for a heart problem can be intimidating, but knowledge about the heart and surgical options makes recovery less difficult.