Complications include the following but are not limited to these only:
Infection Lung infection, urinary tract infection and wound infection are the commonest sites for infection after a heart surgery. Regular physiotherapy helps prevent infection in the lungs.
All patients receive antibiotics at the start of the surgery and the operation theatre protocols include strict infection control practices and hence,surgical site infection is uncommon. However, those with lowered immunity like diabetics, smokers and those on long-term steroids are prone to infections.
Stroke It may occur at any time after surgery within the first few days. 1-2% is the risk of getting a stroke. It is common for patients to make a complete recovery. Weaknesses on one side of the body or difficulty in speaking are the common symptoms. Those with a previous history of stroke or those with carotid artery disease are at a higher risk (10%).
Bleeding It can occur in the first few hours after the surgery and may be due to the use of anti-coagulants during the surgery. The risk is about 5%. Sometimes, there may be bleeding from a small blood vessel and in such cases the chest is reopened and the bleeding is stopped.
Renal failure In some patients, there may be improper renal functioning after the heart surgery, requiring dialysis. But this is usually temporary.
Lung injury It can occur in chronic smokers and those with lung diseases. This may necessitate long-term use of ventilator support.
Atrial fibrillation and abnormal heart rhythm it is seen in 25-30% of the patients after the surgery. Palpitations, sweating, nausea and dizziness are common symptoms. Some people have bradycardia, which slows the heart rate and may need a temporary pace maker.
Death It may occur in 1-2% of cases. Those who have had surgeries before have a higher risk.