Cardiovascular surgeon, Rafael Llorens draws attention to the increase in heart disease among patients of about 40 as a result of the increase in obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes
The Hospiten Rambla Cardiovascular Surgery Department carries out its 6,000th intervention since opening 18 years ago.
There are more and more cases of young patients requiring heart surgery to solve coronary problems. Rafael Llorens, cardiovascular surgeon with the Hospiten Group says that around 5% of the patients he sees every year are between 40 and 45 years of age. It was an unthinkable percentage a decade ago and is mainly due to an increase in problems like obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Renowned for the pioneering application of some of the most innovative techniques in the world in heart surgery, the cardiovascular surgeon, Rafael Llorens has been in charge of the Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery Department at Hospiten Rambla for 18 years, where the 6,000th intervention was carried out in January.
As he explains, in the last two decades there have been great advances in heart surgery with the application of less aggressive techniques, which has contributed to reducing the mortality rate and the recovery time required by any heart surgery. Nowadays, a patient who has had heart surgery can lead a normal life within three or four weeks, while twenty years ago, recovery could have taken months.Results in terms of mortality have also improved, going from 25% in interventions in the 80s to 5% or 6% now.
Nevertheless, these improvements have been accompanied by other changes in the lifestyle of the population that have meant an increase in the number of young people needing heart surgery. “The number of children and youths affected by obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure is getting higher and higher, especially in the Canaries, which evidently means an increase in the number of cases of heart disease”, states Dr. Llorens.In this context, the cardiovascular surgeon assures us that “obesity is not only a question of esthetics, but is also a very serious problem related to current lifestyle habits and which means education must begin in school on the need for healthy eating habits based on the Mediterranean diet”.
At present, there are still more men than women with heart disease, above all coronary disease, due to the fact that women are diagnosed and treated for coronary disease later, because symptoms appear differently and it is more difficult to link them to this kind of disease. “In men, symptoms are located in the chest, while in women, the disease manifests itself in general tiredness”, adds the doctor.
All things considered, Rafael Llorens assures us that early diagnosis and the application of the right treatment, together with a change in eating habits, can stop heart disease and allow the patient to lead and normal, active, risk-free life.
A pioneering center
Among the most innovative techniques developed by the Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery Unit at Hospiten Rambla is off-pump (or beating heart) coronary surgery and mammary artery grafting. A treatment, unique in the Canary Islands, that contributes to a reduction of surgical risks and cuts patient recovery time, while improving long-term results by using mammary artery grafts, thus avoiding obstruction years down the line, instead of using vein grafts.
In addition, for the last three years Hospiten Rambla has been applying a technique that consists of implanting sutureless heart valve prostheses in patients requiring aortic valve replacement, instead of traditional valves, thus reducing the duration of the operation, making recovery faster and widening the patient’s chances of living longer and better, above all in patients over 80, who represent 30% of all patients attended in the department last year.