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This heart surgery can wreck your brain

Last time I took my car in for an oil change, they found I had a coolant leak. A trip to the mechanic that was supposed to cost me $40 ended up costing $400.

Life’s funny that way, isn’t it?

At least a coolant leak can be fixed easily enough, even if it hurts to shell out that cash.

But there’s another leak that’s far more dangerous and there’s nothing you can do about it when it happens.

It’s a tiny leak inside your brain, called a microbleed.

They don’t exactly sell spare parts for the brain at AutoZone!

Now, new research reveals that a common heart procedure — one performed EVERY SIX MINUTES in this country — could cause you to spring a leak right inside your own skull.

It’s a procedure called an aortic valve replacement, and it’s so risky that you could suffer a stroke smack in the middle of it.

To prevent that from happening, docs usually thin the blood until it’s more watered down than the booze at closing time.

And, sure, that cuts the risk of a stroke — but the new study finds the blood ends up so thin that 1 in 4 patients end up suffering from tiny brain bleeds after the procedure.

These bleeds are so small that neither you nor your doc will notice them. You’re not going to be leaking out your ears or anything like that.

But those tiny bleeds can cause BIG problems down the road, increasing your risk of cognitive decline and even DOUBLING your risk of dementia.

The folks in the study who suffered bleeds during surgery were already headed down that path. They flunked critical cognitive tests after the procedure, especially tests of thinking and memory.

Obviously, if you really need a valve replacement, you REALLY need that operation.

It can be a life-or-death surgery for some folks.

But one report just last month found that up to 40 percent of those operations are unnecessary — meaning some 34,000 needless valve replacements are done every year in the United States alone.

So, if you have the time, get a second opinion to make sure surgery is absolutely necessary.

If it turns out you really do need the thing, don’t hesitate. Get it done, and worry about the risks later.

At least there will be a later to worry about!

But it’s not just your life on the life. Your QUALITY of life is at stake, too, so speak to the doctor about making sure the blood thinner is done as carefully as possible to minimize those risks.

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