According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2006, "heart disease caused 26 percent of deaths -- more than one in every four -- in the United States." Doctors see patients suffering from a wide range of problems associated with heart disease, varying in severity from chest pain to heart attack. What options do people suffering from these ailments have?
Revascularization surgeries are often the answer. These procedures focus on the needs of the circulatory system -- the heart, arteries and veins. Their purpose is to restore blood flow to specific organs or tissues. Revascularization is a well-established surgery that's widely practiced. In recent years, however, cardiac-related revascularization procedures have become more common in the United States due to the growing number of people who have coronary artery disease.
Coronary artery disease is an epidemic in the United States; an estimated 16.8 million Americans have the condition [source: ScienceDaily]. While the disease can go undetected in some cases, it's often discovered when a patient complains of chest pain. This pain is a result of the heart straining for oxygen, usually due to arteries clogged by cholesterol-rich plaque. Common risk factors for coronary artery disease include smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
When medications and other techniques, like improved diet and exercise regimens, don't help, cardiac revascularization surgery is an option to relieve chest pain. Depending on the severity of the blockage, a patient will need to undergo a coronary artery bypass graft, minimally invasive coronary artery bypass or a percutaneous coronary intervention to reroute blood flow and restore oxygen to the heart, all of which we'll discuss in this article.
Read the next page to learn about the most common type of open-heart surgery in the U.S.