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Coronary Bypass Surgery

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An overview of coronary bypass surgery

Coronary bypass surgery is a surgical procedure that helps in restoring blood flow to the heart in case of partial or complete blockage of the arteries. The surgery makes use of a person’s own healthy blood vessel either taken from chest, leg or abdomen and connects it to other arteries of the heart so that blood is bypassed aptly in and around blocked area.

Some of the alternative names of the condition are coronary artery bypass surgery, cardiac bypass surgery, CABG, coronary artery bypass graft, etc.


Why coronary bypass surgery is performed?

In the surface of the heart, three coronary arteries are present which provide oxygen and nutrients to the heart. When these arteries become line with plaque, arteries either become narrow or get blocked completely. This results in reducing oxygen and blood flow to the heart, thereby resulting in losing the heart's ability to pump the blood effectively to the rest of the body parts.

How coronary bypass surgery is done?

Before the surgery starts, mild sedative is given to patients. After that following procedure is performed step by step:
  1. For opening the chest, surgeon splits the breastbone and in order to stop the heart functioning, they make use of certain chemicals. This procedure is known as hypothermia. In this procedure, grafts are also attached.

  2. With the help of cardiopulmonary bypass machine, heart stops working and blood circulation is maintained. After attaching the grafts adequately, heart starts working again.

  3. Blood vessels are removed from other parts of the body like from the chest, from the arm or from the leg and used for bypass.

  4. And the next step comprises of attaching blood vessels to the arteries. This helps in bypassing the blockage in the arteries.

The surgery usually performs in the time span of 4-6 hours.

Risks associated with coronary bypass surgery

Like any other medical procedure, there are certain risks and complications associated with coronary bypass surgery also.

Some of the most common risks of the open-heart surgery are

  • Heart rhythm irregularities,
  • Bleeding, infection of the wound,
  • Organ failure,
  • Blood clotting, etc.
  • Less serious complications include kidney failure, heart attack, stroke, memory loss, etc.

Recovery after coronary bypass surgery

Surgeons prefer keeping patients for the next 3-5 days in hospital and keep them under observation. In order to recover completely, minimum 12 weeks time period is required as healing of breastbone takes time period of approximately 12 weeks. Most of the patients are allowed to drive after 6-8 weeks of having surgery. The doctors suggest patients to resume their work and restart with normal activities after six weeks time period.

Life after coronary bypass surgery

Once a patient is discharged from the hospital, he or she needs to visit the surgeon within 7-10 days for the follow check up. During this visit, depending upon the condition of patient, surgeon will decide medication for him and also give recommendations regarding how to improve your life style.

It is necessary to take care of your chest wound by keeping it clean and infection free.
Almost after 6th week, patients are allowed to travel, resume their work, return to their normal sex life, etc.

After two months, they are allowed to ride a bike or go for shopping. Because healing process will take time, therefore do not exhaust yourself by doing excess work initially. Even there are certain activities which are necessary to avoid like heavy weight lifting, playing tennis, golf, etc. for the first two months.

After three months, they can go for swimming and indulge in low-impact sports, etc. If you experience pain around the wound, pus coming from it or increased tenderness around it, seek medical consultation immediately.

Other recommendations provided by surgeons include

  • Maintaining healthy weight
  • Reducing cholesterol level
  • Eating healthy and balanced diet
  • Controlling and managing diabetes

Written by: Healthplus24 team
Date last updated: September 07, 2012