Heart-related problems do not always require surgery. Sometimes they can be addressed with lifestyle changes, medications, or nonsurgical procedures. For example, catheter ablation uses energy to make small scars in your heart tissue to prevent abnormal electrical signals from moving through your heart. Coronary angioplasty is a minimally invasive procedure in which a stent is inserted into a narrowed or blocked coronary artery to hold it open. Nonetheless, surgery is often needed to address problems such as heart failure, plaque buildup that partially or totally blocks blood flow in a coronary artery, faulty heart valves, dilated or diseased major blood vessels (such as the aorta), and abnormal heart rhythms.
There are many types of heart surgery. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, lists the following as among the most common coronary surgical procedures.
In addition to these surgeries, a minimally invasive alternative to open-heart surgery that is becoming more common is transcatheter structural heart surgery. This involves guiding a long, thin, flexible tube called a catheter to your heart through blood vessels that can be accessed from the groin, thigh, abdomen, chest, neck, or collarbone. A small incision is necessary. This type of surgery includes transcatheter aortic valve implantation to replace a faulty aortic valve with a valve made from animal tissue, MitraClip® placement for mitral valve abnormalities, and WATCHMAN® placement for nonvalvular atrial fibrillation patients.