Arnold Schwarzenegger health: Hollywood star’s major health operation – what was it?

Arnold Schwarzenegger is best described as the Hollywood action film icon of the 1980s and 1990s, attached to blockbuster franchises such as Terminator. The star’s colourful career took a surprising turn in 2003, when he was sworn in as the 38th Governor of California. He was then re-elected in 2006 to serve a full term as governor. His personal life has been similarly eventful.

The pulmonary valve regulates blood flow in the heart

Mayo Clinic

Last year the Hollywood heavyweight underwent a procedure to replace his pulmonic valve for the second time.

As Mayo Clinic explained: “Pulmonary valve repair and pulmonary valve replacement are procedures that treat diseases affecting the pulmonary valve.”

The pulmonary valve is one of four valves that regulate blood flow in the heart, according to the health site.

According to the British Heart Foundation, there are two options for valve surgery: valve repair and valve replacement.

Valve repair is often used for mitral valves that become floppy and leak but are not seriously damaged.

Valve replacement, the operation Arnold underwent, is when the diseased valve is replaced with a new valve.

“The most common types of replacement valves are mechanical (artificial) valves or tissue (animal) valves,” explained the health body.

Following the operation, the former California governor posted on Twitter: “It’s true: I’m back! I went to sleep expecting to wake up with a small incision and woke up with a big one — but guess what? I woke up, and that’s something to be thankful for.”

He added: “Thank you to the doctors & nurses. And I’m truly filled with gratitude for all of the kind messages.”

According to the actor’s representative, Arnold had his pulmonic valve replaced in 1997 due to a congenital heart defect and knew at the time the fix wasn’t permanent.

Commenting on the operation at the time, the former California governor said that he had not experienced any discomfort prior to his original procedure.

“Choosing to undergo open-heart surgery when I never felt sick was the hardest decision I’ve ever made,” Schwarzenegger said in a statement at that time.

He added: “I can now look forward to a long, healthy life with my family.”

Though he’d elected to have a less-invasive procedure this time, an open-heart-surgery team was prepared to step in if necessary.

As Mayo Clinic explains, when the pulmonary valve isn’t working properly, it can interfere with blood flow from the heart to the lungs as well as force the heart to work harder to supply the necessary blood to the rest of a person’s body.

What does the operation entail?

According to the British Heart Foundation, In most valve operations, a person’s surgeon will:

  • Reach their heart by making an incision down the middle of their breastbone
  • Use a heart-lung machine to circulate blood around your body during the operation

Open up their heart to reach the affected valve and perform the repair or replacement.

In a small number of cases, one or more small incisions can be made in a person’s chest and their breastbone may not even need to be cut, notes the health body.

“Speak with your surgeon about the advantages and disadvantages of this type of surgery as it is not suitable for everyone,” it advised.

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