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Coronary Bypass Surgery

Coronary bypass surgery also known as Coronary Artery Bypass or CABG, or ‘cabbage’ and Open-Heart Surgery is a surgical procedure for the heart to redirect blood into clogged coronary arteries, increase their blood flow and oxygen to the heart. In coronary artery disease (CAD), the coronary arteries (which bring blood to heart muscle) can get hardened and narrowed by building up fat, cholesterol and other substances in the arterial wall, slowing down the blood flow to heart leading to chest pain and heart attack if left untreated. Performed by a cardio-vascular thoracic surgeon specialized in doing heart surgeries, veins taken from another part of the body are grafted to new path for blood flow to the heart by bypassing the blocked area of coronary artery or number of blocked arteries and thereby restoring the oxygen supply and nutrients to the heart muscle. Bypassing the closed/blocked/narrowed points of coronary artery, blood starts flowing through grafted veins relieving the patient from his/her chest pain, prolonging the life of patient from reducing the risk of heart attack and death from CAD.

 

Who needs CABG and what to expect?

Those who cannot undergo angioplasty (position of the blockage, inaccessibility and multiple vessel blockage), CABG is indicated. Bypass surgery time depends on number of vessels and complexity of graft needed and usually takes 3-6 hours. Off-pump or awake coronary bypass surgery offers faster recovery due to less post-operative complications and thereby considerably reduce the hospital stay after the surgery from a general 5-7 days. Depending on the nature of the job, 3-6 weeks rest is necessary before resuming normal daily activities.

Though the overall success rate is 96-98%, it is important to understand the actual surgical risks involved. Risk increases with age (>70 years), poor cardiac function, number of procedures a person needs in a single operation and other medical conditions like diabetes, kidney/ lung diseases. Ask your cardiologist about any questions you might have, to understand the procedure and potential risks you might face. Bypass surgery success rate in India is considered to be the best. Many hospitals like Apollo hospitals perform off-pump that allows critically ill patients and those with associated co-morbidities like renal disease, compromised lung function and other existing diseases are treated with fewer complications.

For successful outcome from the surgery one must complete the medicine dose given by operating doctor, track cholesterol, control blood pressure, diabetes stress, tensions and anger, observe and manage weight by eating heart healthy food, exercise regularly as directed by doctors and have regular checkups. It is important not to smoke, lift heavy weights, play competitive sports or walk on steep hills.