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Cardiac Bypass Surgery

Putting It All Together: Cardiac Bypass Surgery

Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - 17:31

Here is a summary of the important facts and information related to cardiac bypass surgery.

  • Cardiac bypass surgery, also know as cardiac artery bypass graft (CABG) is an operation to restore blood flow to the arteries around the heart, performed when a person's coronary arteries become blocked.
  • Coronary artery disease is the condition which may lead to cardiac bypass surgery. It is a condition where the arteries around the heart become clogged or blocked by plaque.
  • Risk factors for developing coronary artery disease include family history, smoking, diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), a sedentary lifestyle, elevated cholesterol, and being overweight.
  • Tests for coronary artery disease include an exercise treadmill test, also known as a stress test, the stress thallium test, and acoronary angiogram (or arteriogram).
  • An anesthesiologist will use a number of medications to put you to sleep during the operation, and to help you remain comfortable immediately after the operation.
  • The procedure will be done by making an incision down the center of the breastbone, connecting the heart to a heart-lung machine that will take over its work during surgery, removing the blood vessels from the leg (or the chest) that will be used in the bypass, and attaching the new blood vessels to the coronary arteries.
  • The usual time for surgery is between 3 and 5 hours, depending on the number of bypasses and the complexity of the surgery.
  • Complications of the procedure include too much bleeding which may require more surgery, infection of the wound, stroke, blood clots, organ failure, and heart attacks.
  • Remember is that surgery is not a cure, but just addresses the symptoms of heart disease. Once your surgeon has done the procedure, there are choices you may take to prevent the condition from recurring. How healthy you are after surgery depends in large part on the steps you take to prevent future problems.

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