The heart muscle can be defined as a pump the size of fist that continuously pumps blood throughput the body; the heart has four compartments or chambers, two auricles and two ventricles. Each ventricle has an inlet and an outlet valve.
Problems with the heart valves are caused, in most cases, by birth defects, rheumatic fever, infections or tissue degenerative causes related to aging.
The disease can cause valves do not open properly, which hinders the passage of blood, valvular stenosis, or they may not close completely and there is a loss, valvular insufficiency, or a combination of the two, double valvular lesion.
In heart valve surgery the valve is repaired or replace by a prostheses valve that can be entirely synthetic or of biological materials.
In order to maintain its function the heart muscle pump needs to maintain its function continuously. The supply and oxygenation of the heart muscle is performed by the coronary arteries and their branches. There is a left coronary artery, which divides into left anterior descending and circumflex, and a right coronary artery.
The coronary arteries may be affected by atherosclerosis and calcification, which can cause partial or total obstruction of the lumen of the artery leading to a reduction in blood flow. This lack of blood flow is the cause of angina pectoris. When there is a total lack of blood or for a long period, it can affect the heart muscle causing death of certain muscle areas, which is known as a myocardial infarction.
The treatment of the coronary arteries can be accomplished with drugs or by Interventional Cardiology with stent placement and, in severe cases or where medical treatment is not sufficient, cardiac surgery with implantation of conduits or Coronary Bypass which is usually a final and complete treatment.
The Cardiovascular Surgical Unit maintaining a close relationship with the Cardiology Department and the Hemodynamics Unit, supporting and providing surgical cover in surgical invasive treatment performed by the Interventional Cardiology Unit, be it coronary artery bypass graft, percutaneous angioplasty as well as arrhythmias and electrophysiology treatment.
The Cardiac Surgery Unit consists of experts in Cardiothoracic Surgery and is on call 24 hours a day, every day of the year to treat any cardiovascular emergency that may arise and always in the correct and appropriate "timing" for each case.
The surgeries are performed at Algarve – Alvor and Gambelas Hospitals – and Hospital Particular da Madeira, where there is all the necessary latest generation equipment for the performance of any cardiovascular surgery. At the same time, the hospitals has an Intensive Care Units with highly skilled medical and nursing staff experienced in caring for post-operative cardiac surgery.
Urgent pediatric heart surgery and adult congenital heart disease. The whole team is trained in pediatric cardiac surgery.
Support to the Hemodynamics and Electrophysiology Team of Specialists when required by Cardiology.