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Heart surgery can correct problems with the heart if other treatments haven't worked or can't be used. The most common type of heart surgery for adults is coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG). During CABG, a healthy artery or vein from the body is connected, or grafted, to a blocked coronary (heart) artery.

Doctors also use heart surgery to

  • Repair or replace heart valves, which control blood flow through the heart
  • Repair abnormal or damaged structures in the heart
  • Implant medical devices that help control the heartbeat or support heart function and blood flow
  • Replace a damaged heart with a healthy heart from a donor
  • Treat heart failure and coronary heart disease
  • Control abnormal heart rhythms

Heart surgery has risks, even though its results often are excellent. Risks include bleeding, infection, irregular heartbeats, and stroke. The risk is higher if you are older or a woman. The risk is also higher if you have other diseases or conditions, such as diabetes, kidney disease, lung disease, or peripheral arterial disease.

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

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Treatments might be new drugs or new combinations of drugs, new surgical procedures or devices, or new ways to use existing treatments. The goal of clinical trials is to determine if a new test or treatment works and is safe. Clinical trials can also look at other aspects of care, such as improving the quality of life for people with chronic illnesses. People participate in clinical trials for a variety of reasons. Healthy volunteers say they participate to help others and to contribute to moving science forward. Participants with an illness or disease also participate to help others, but also to possibly receive the newest treatment and to have the additional care and attention from the clinical trial staff.