Cardiac Bypass Surgery

Frequently Asked Questions: Cardiac Bypass Surgery

Here are some frequently asked questions related to cardiac bypass surgery.

Q: Are there any new developments in coronary bypass surgery?

A: Recent advances in stabilizing the heart as it beats allows surgeons to do coronary bypass surgery without the use of cardiopulmonary bypass. This is known as beating heart surgery. There are several stabilizers available that immobilize the heart at the point of the graft. This allows the surgeon to do the grafting on immobilized tissue while the rest of the heart beats. Advantages of beating heart surgery include the decrease in the inflammatory response, decreased bleeding, and improved organ function. Disadvantages include the difficulty in accessing areas of the heart that continue to beat.

Q: Why is aspirin helpful in preventing blockages?

A: Aspirin is usually used to relieve a headache or a fever. But because it thins the blood, aspirin also can prevent blood clots from forming. These are the same kind of blood clots that can block the coronary arteries and cause a heart attack.Acetaminophen (for example, TylenolTM) and ibuprofen (for example, AdvilTM) are not the same as aspirin and should not be used in place of aspirin.Most people diagnosed with heart disease will be told to take aspirin every day. Your doctor will tell you how much to take. Coated or buffered aspirin may reduce major side effects, which include too much bleeding. Aspirin should not be used if you are allergic to it or if you have had an ulcer or any other bleeding problem.

Q: What is normal blood pressure?

A: Normal blood pressure is stated as 120/80. In the measurement, the top number (systolic pressure) represents the pressure in the arteries as the heart contracts. The bottom number (diastolic pressure) is the minimum pressure in the artery as the heart relaxes after contraction.Generally, a blood pressure measurement of 140/90 Hg that has been confirmed on multiple occasions is considered high. Experts tend to consider high blood pressure a continuum rather than a set number. For example, people with kidney disease or diabetes would be considered to have high blood pressure at a lower measurement.

Q: Are there any alternative therapies available?

A: Several dietary supplements show promise in preventing heart disease. The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and fish oil have been shown in studies to be preventive. Coenzyme Q10 is a powerful antioxidant which has been thought to be important in the protection against cardiovascular disease. Several alternative practices including yoga and meditation are excellent stress management tools. Studies using these therapies in combination with a very low-fat diet and physical activity have showed great promise in treating heart disease.

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