Cardiothoracic Surgery Program
Emory Cardiothoracic Surgery Program treats many conditions
Severe or advanced heart conditions keep your heart from pumping properly, which puts your life at risk. Emory cardiothoracic surgeons offer the surgical treatments you need for a healthier heart.
Whether you were born with a heart problem or have had a heart attack, you’ll find compassionate surgical care centered around your needs at Emory Cardiothoracic Surgery Program. We work closely with you and your family, so that you know what to expect before, during and after surgery.
What heart problems may need cardiothoracic surgery?
Cardiothoracic surgery treats many conditions that affect the chest region. It’s used to help people with lung, esophagus — and particularly heart problems. Cardiothoracic surgery is a common solution for many heart conditions, including those listed below.
If you have heart failure, it means your heart cannot pump enough blood to meet your body’s needs. It’s common, but can be life-threatening. Blood can “back up” cause swelling in your lungs, hands, abdomen, legs and feet. You may have other symptoms like shortness of breath, weakness or tiredness and other problems.
Coronary artery disease (CAD)
Coronary arteries bring blood back to the heart. Sometimes plaque (cholesterol and fat) sticks to artery walls and hardens (coronary atherosclerosis). The plaque narrows and hardens your arteries allowing less blood to flow through. You may be short of breath and feel chest pain or pressure (angina). If blood flow stops completely, you may have a heart attack.
Valvular heart disease
Heart valves control how blood flows through your heart. When you have a valvular heart disease, less blood may flow through your valves (called stenosis), or blood may “back up” (called regurgitation). You may have symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, swelling in your feet or ankles, or heart palpitations (rapid, hard or “skipped” heart beats). If it’s not treated, valvular heart disease can lead to stroke, heart failure or pulmonary embolism (a life-threatening blood clot in your lungs). Most people who have a heart valve problem are born it, or develop it after rheumatic fever or a heart infection.
Thoracic aortic aneurysm
The aorta runs from your heart down to your legs, carrying blood throughout your body. Sometimes the wall of the aorta can become weak, usually because of plaque build up. The weak area balloons out, forming an aneurysm. If the aneurysm bursts, it causes life-threatening bleeding. If you have an aortic aneurysm, you may notice symptoms like shortness of breath, upper chest and back pain, or have trouble swallowing.
Thoracic aortic dissection
An aortic dissection is a tear in the lining of your aortic artery. Blood can get caught in the tear and cause your aorta to rupture (burst) or dissect (split). Aortic dissection can happen if you have high blood pressure for a long time, have an aortic aneurysm or were born with an aortic valve condition. Symptoms of a sudden aortic dissection include severe, tearing chest pain and a cold sweat.
Marfan syndrome is an inherited (genetic) condition. It’s when tissue that connects different parts of your body, such as artery walls or heart valves, is not stiff enough. Marfan syndrome often causes the aorta to stretch, which can lead to aortic aneurysm or aortic dissection. It can also cause heart valves to let blood leak and flow backward through the heart, leading to heart enlargement and a higher risk for stroke or pulmonary embolism.
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