Fans of film and TV star Bill Paxton were shocked when it was announced over the weekend he died due to complications from heart surgery. Paxton, age 61, suffered a deadly stroke either during or after surgery. University of Nebraska Medical Center Cardiologist Dr. Dan Anderson says with every surgery there are risks. He says individuals can have a stroke during surgery or after surgery and the risk ranges anywhere from .1 to 5%.
Dr. Anderson says the risk of stroke depends on the individual’s condition as well as their age. He says heart problems start when a person is younger and progress as a person ages. That is why so many elderly people have to undergo heart surgery.
Dr. Anderson says when you have heart surgery there are many precautions taken to prevent the risk of a stroke. He says, “The older somebody is, the more plaque they have in their aorta, all those kinds of things do contribute to the increased risk of having a stroke. A younger person who didn’t have the disease build up in the aorta who needs cardiovascular surgery wouldn’t have the same risk of a person who is 60, 70 or older.”
Dr. Anderson says surgery is only needed when you have significant disease and the benefit outweighs the risk. There are people without this treatment would have 50 to 60% mortality. Dr. Anderson today there is much more of an emphasis on heart attack and heart care prevention than in year’s past. He says that is why doctors stress individuals do not smoke, treat high blood pressure and maintain a healthy diet.