Coronary Artery Bypass


A coronary artery bypass is a heart surgery in which obstructed coronary arteries are avoided using a grafted blood vessel to restore blood flow to the heart. The graft, which frequently comes from the patient’s blood vessels, creates a new passage for blood to travel to the heart.

What is it?

Coronary artery bypass surgery is a heart procedure that involves removing or redirecting a blood vessel around an area of narrowing vessels. The new blood vessel referred to as a graft bypasses a blockage and restores blood flow to heart muscle. This procedure is needed for someone who has reduced blood flow to the heart due to a coronary artery blockage. These patients also may attempt lifestyle changes, medications, or angioplasty before surgery is needed. Additionally, this operation is performed in emergency situations such as heart attacks.

What should I do to prepare?

The patient undergoes several tests and consults before surgery. They should refrain from eating and drinking 8 hours before the procedure (usually overnight), and discuss allergies and current medications with the doctor. The patient also is advised to stop smoking as soon as possible.

What happens during the process?

Coronary artery bypass surgery lasts between 3 and 6 hours using general anesthesia. A long incision is made in the chest, exposing the heart. The heart temporarily stops functioning but is assisted by a heart-lung machine to continue blood circulation. The surgeon removes a section of the healthy blood vessel from the chest wall or leg and connects it adjacent to the blocked artery.

What are the risks and potential complications? 

There are several rare, but possible, complications and risks associated with this coronary artery bypass surgery, including, but not limited to, bleeding, arrhythmia, infections at the wound site, memory loss (generally improves 6-12 months post op.), kidney problems, stroke, and heart attack.


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