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Cardiothoracic Surgery in Ventura County

Cardiovascular & Thoracic Surgeons Here for You

The prospect of heart surgery is stressful for anyone. However, a heart operation can be a turning point in your life. This is your chance to take control of your health and live a longer and healthier life.

Our program is one of the oldest in the region. Our cardiovascular and thoracic surgeons are specially trained to perform operations on the heart and blood vessels of the body and related areas in the chest. They perform hundreds of open-heart operations each year in our specialized cardiac operating room (OR), with excellent outcomes. The overwhelming majority recover and return to active and fulfilling lifestyles.

Community Memorial is unique among the hospitals and programs in Ventura County, as it has participated since the outset in both the Society of Thoracic Surgeons and the statewide cardiac surgical databases. That means our surgical outcomes are continuously tracked and analyzed.

An Established, Expert Team

Our cardiothoracic surgeons function as captains of a dedicated cardiothoracic surgical team, available 24/7. In addition to our experienced surgeons, the team includes:

  • An anesthesiologist and anesthesia technicians who specialize in heart surgery
  • A perfusionist — an expert in the use of the heart/lung machine
  • Specialized nurses in the Operating Room, Cardiac Care, and Telemetry

Our highly collaborative team works with your cardiologist, primary care doctor, and other specialists. You can count on us to consult with them and keep them in the loop regarding your care and condition.

Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)

We are the only program in the Tri-County area to offer extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECM) to support patients with life threatening lung and heart failure. The ECMO respiratory machine is used in critical care situations to support the heart and lungs and promote healing. Blood is pumped from your body into the ECMO. The machine filters out carbon dioxide and adds oxygen to the blood. The blood is then rewarmed to body temperature before being sent back into the body. This method allows the blood to "bypass" the heart and lungs, allowing these organs to rest and heal.

Procedures our Surgeons Perform:

  • Coronary artery (bypass) surgery
  • Surgical treatment of valvular heart disease
  • Transcatheter aortic valve replacement
  • Surgical treatment thoracic aortic aneurysm
  • Laser pacemaker lead extraction

Surgical Treatment for Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease, affecting 20.1 million adults (about 7.2% of the total population). High blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking and other risk factors can cause a build-up of plaque along the walls of the arteries leading to your heart. That build-up hardens and narrows the arteries, reducing blood flow to the heart. In severe cases, plaque or blood clots can completely block an artery, causing a heart attack (myocardial infarction) and damage to the affected area of heart muscle. According to the American Heart Association, every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a myocardial infarction.

Our surgeons have performed hundreds of procedures for coronary and heart valve diseases, on patients ages 20 to 90. These are the surgeries they most commonly perform:

  • Coronary Bypass Surgery: In this procedure, blood flow is redirected around the blocked arteries in the heart. The surgeon takes a piece of healthy blood vessel from another part of the patient’s body and grafts it below and above the blockage to reroute blood flow. This improves heart function and reduces the risk of future heart attack and damage to the heart.
  • Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting Surgery: Community Memorial surgeons employ the latest scientifically validated and most effective techniques. Using sections of arteries from the chest wall or forearms or sections of one of the many veins in the legs, blood is rerouted through these grafts to the heart muscle that needs it.

Heart Valve Disease Treatment

Heart valve disease reduces blood flow to the rest of the body and puts excess strain on the heart. In some cases, heart valves no longer open as easily as they should, causing the heart to work harder to push blood through a too-small opening. In other cases, age, infection, abnormal anatomy, or a combination of these factors can cause a valve to get floppy and leak blood back into the chamber it came from. The heart must work harder to push the same blood through the valve again, causing progressive enlargement and damage to the heart muscle.

Our surgeons replace or repair diseased valves to restore the heart’s ability to pump blood efficiently. Depending on the heart valve issue, the valve can be tightened or reshaped to remove extra tissue, so it closes securely. If the damaged valve can’t be repaired, it is replaced with a mechanical valve or one from a human or animal donor.

Recovery & Rehabilitation After Heart Surgery

After heart surgery, patients are moved to our Cardiac Care Unit (CCU). They wake up fully wired, with a breathing tube in place, chest tubes to drain any fluid buildup in the chest, and monitors attached to them to record their condition and vital signs. A Cardiac Care Nurse is at their bedside, watching over their recovery. The breathing tube is removed as soon as it is safe, often within the first few hours after surgery. The other tubes and lines are removed as recovery progresses in the CCU, usually within the next 24 – 48 hours.

We use a combination of pain medications to help patients rest and recover as rapidly as quickly as possible. There is some discomfort, but it is rarely severe, and some patients report little or no significant pain during recovery. The day following the operation, most patients are encouraged to sit up in a chair. The average hospital stay is 5 – 6 days, but this depends on a person’s specific needs.

Before returning home, patients are given specific instructions regarding diet and activity levels and referred to our Cardiac Rehabilitation program. Most patients are encouraged to start walking daily as soon as they return home, gradually increasing the duration of these walks. They are asked to refrain from heavy lifting, pushing, or pulling for six weeks to allow the breast bone to heal. If their job does not entail physical exertion, patients are often able get back to work 3 – 4 weeks after surgery.