By GEORGE NAVA TRUE II / Content Editor
Fans of multi-awarded singer-songwriter Gary Valenciano were shocked when their beloved idol underwent emergency open heart surgery last Sunday. Fortunately, the 53-year-old musician and TV host appears to be doing well after the operation, according to his wife Angeli.
Prior to surgery, Mr. Pure Energy suffered from chest pain and constant tiredness. Doctors said he had a blocked anterior descending artery caused by diabetes. In spite of that, Valenciano promised fans he would perform again once he fully recovers.
Traditional or open heart surgery is a common operation done in adults. In the United States alone, over 200,000 Americans undergo this procedure every year, according to The Washington Post. This is also known as coronary artery bypass surgery, coronary artery bypass graft (“cabbage”) surgery, heart bypass, or bypass surgery.
Doctors at the Mayo Clinic said it is so named because the chest is cut open in order to divert the flow of blood around a blocked artery in the heart. A healthy blood vessel is removed from the leg, arm, or chest and is connected to the other arteries in the heart. By doing so, blood bypasses the diseased artery and normal blood flow is restored. This relieves angina (chest pain), shortness of breath, and reduces the patient’s risk of dying from heart disease.
The Mayo Clinic recommends open heart surgery if there is severe chest pain caused by narrowed or blocked arteries. This becomes an option if there are numerous diseased arteries and the left ventricle (the heart’s main pumping chamber) or left main coronary artery isn’t working well.
A heart bypass is normally done if other artery-opening techniques like angioplasty or stenting are not suitable for a patient or if these procedures haven’t worked well. This type of surgery may also be performed if the patient has a heart attack and can’t be helped by other treatments.
Not Without Risks
Although open heart surgery is a common and safe operation, the Mayo Clinic said there are certain risks you should be aware of. Possible complications include bleeding, wound infections, heart rhythm irregularities, memory loss, stroke, and a heart attack. The risk is higher in patients with other medical conditions like kidney disease, diabetes, emphysema, or blocked leg arteries.
If you are healthy, expect a complete recovery in six to 12 weeks. Done correctly, a heart bypass will keep the patient free from symptoms for as long as 15 years.
Bear in mind, however, that the operation doesn’t cure the underlying cause of blocked arteries. Lifestyle changes like quitting smoking, exercise, and stress management are required to prevent the problem from recurring.
Depending on your health, you may need to take medicines to lower blood pressure, prevent blood clots, lower cholesterol, and control diabetes. Still, that’s a small price to pay to get back on your feet, be with your family, and live a normal life.
For more information on heart surgery, check out https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/heart-surgery.