Cardiac Surgery

To understand how cardiac surgery works, it is helpful to know something about the anatomy of the heart. The heart is a muscle containing four compartments or chambers that separate oxygen-poor blood from oxygen-rich blood. The atria are the top chambers. They receive blood from the body. The ventricles are the bottom chambers. They pump blood out to the body. Oxygen-poor blood enters the right atrium, then moves through a valve to the right ventricle. It is then pumped out of the right ventricle to the lungs where it picks up oxygen. The oxygen-rich blood returns to the left atrium of the through the pulmonary vein, flows through a valve to the left ventricle, and is then pumped into the aorta. The aorta is the only artery carrying blood out of the heart. Smaller arteries branch off and carry blood to the rest of the body from this very large, thick, long artery. The first arteries to branch off the aorta are the coronary arteries. These carry a continuous supply of oxygen-rich blood to the heart.

Cardiac surgery is done to correct many different types of heart conditions. The most common are:

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