Things to Know About Leaky Heart Surgery

Leaky heart surgery is a medical procedure that aims to treat blood flow disorders in the heart that have reached the severe category. This surgery is done if the administration of drugs is considered unable to handle it optimally.

The heart organ consists of four chambers, namely two atria and two chambers, which are separated by a septum. In these barriers there are valves that can be opened and closed to regulate the direction of blood flow, both from the heart and to the heart.

Leaky heart occurs when there is a hole in the heart septum or there is a disturbance in the function of the heart valves, so that blood does not flow properly. To fix this, doctors can perform a surgery known as leaky heart surgery.
Conditions Requiring Leaky Heart Surgery

Leaky heart due to a hole in the septum is generally caused by congenital heart disease, such as ASD (atrial septal defect), VSD (ventricular septal defect), and PFO (patent foramen ovale).

Meanwhile, a leaky heart due to impaired valve function can be caused by hypertension, endocarditis, or rheumatic heart disease.

Although it does not always cause symptoms, a leaky heart can cause sufferers to experience dizziness, headaches, chest pain, difficulty breathing, heart palpitations, and swelling and blueness in the limbs. If you experience this, it is recommended to immediately consult a doctor.

If the leakage in the heart is large enough, clean and dirty blood can be mixed. In this condition, leaky heart surgery needs to be done immediately. Otherwise, various complications, such as heart failure, stroke, or other life-threatening conditions can occur.
Types of Leaky Heart Surgery

Leaky heart surgery will be adjusted according to the cause, whether due to heart valve disorders or holes in the septum. There are three options for leaky heart surgery, namely:
Heart valve repair surgery
To overcome a leaky heart due to heart valve disorders, repair or replacement of heart valves is usually done.

Even so, heart valve repair surgery is more commonly performed. Besides being considered easier, this technique also has a lower risk of infection compared to heart valve replacement surgery.

This step also allows patients to not need to take blood-thinning drugs for life after surgery. Heart valve repair surgery can be divided into several types, namely:

Annuloplasty: valve repair surgery with the installation of a special ring or ring around the heart valve to allow it to close properly again.
MitraClip: clip (clamp) surgery on heart valves to reduce cardiac leakage.
Patching: a leaky heart valve is patched with a patch of other body tissue or artificial tissue.
Repair of the supporting structures of the heart valves: this surgery is done to modify the supporting muscles of the valves to allow them to close as they should.
Reshaping: heart valves are reshaped by cutting and stitching them back together until they are in shape and function normally.

Heart valve replacement surgery
If the heart valve cannot be repaired, for example due to severe heart valve damage, then the heart valve needs to be removed and then replaced. There are two choices of replacement valve materials, namely:

Natural ingredients: made from animal heart tissue (cow or pig) or human heart (donor). These valves can last for 10-15 years and then need to be replaced again, as quality can deteriorate over time.
Synthetic: usually made of carbon-coated plastic or metal. These valves can last a lifetime, but patients need to continue taking blood-thinning medications to prevent blood clots.

Heart septum closure surgery
A leaky heart due to a hole in the heart septum can be treated by closing the hole with a patch. The patch can be made from pericardial tissue or the lining of the patient’s heart or from an artificial material that fits the heart tissue.

Over time and with the help of artificial materials, the original heart tissue will grow to close the hole by itself and the material will become part of the heart.

The types of surgery above can be done with open heart surgery (open heart surgery) or with catheterization.

Before performing leaky heart surgery, tell your doctor as much detail as possible, including your medical history, medications you take, and certain habits, such as smoking. In addition, also discuss the types and procedures of surgery, as well as the risk of complications.

After surgery, it generally takes about 8 weeks to recover. If after leaky heart surgery you have a fever or an irregular heartbeat, immediately go back to see a doctor.