What Happens After Heart Surgery?

There are very few long term studies of patients who survive heart surgery. One notable exception is a study conducted by a Denmark university in 2017. Because Denmark's health care is free for all citizens, the data collected and used by the study was both accurate and representative of the entire population. This study compared the long term health outcomes of 50,000 heart patients with a similar number in the general population. So what did the study tell us?

They first compared the mortality rate of heart patients to the normal population in the 30 days after surgery. This showed that 3.2% of people die in the month after heart surgery compared to 0.2% of the normal population.

For those who recover from heart surgery beyond the first month, the risk is similar to the normal population for the next 10 years but then things change significantly. Mortality rates for heart disease patients increase by 60-80 per cent between 10 and 20 years after surgery. This is new and important knowledge to understand about heart disease patients.

On first glance, you might conclude that heart surgery buys you an extra 10 years of life. However what the data from Denmark doesn't tell us, is what changes patients made to their lifestyle, nutrition, exercise, sleep patterns and stress levels after their surgery. Are those who die 10 years after their surgery simply those patients who made no changes to their lifestyle and reversed the benefits of their surgery? Does another 10 years of poor lifestyle choices simply repeat the problem?

My own experience suggests that may be the case. My heart bypass surgery was performed in Sydney Australia in 2002 and a scan of the four bypass grafts 16 years later, showed that they were in the same condition as the day they were inserted with no narrowing or plaque buildup.

Of course, the result was no accident. I had made many changes to my lifestyle which helped to arrest the inflammatory responses in my body that initially led to the blockage of my arteries. If you would like to talk about your situation and what you can do to improve your outcomes, book in for a free online Discovery Session at a time to suit you.

Mike Lynch

Lifestyle & Wellness Coach