Coronary Bypass Surgery Chapter 1

What is Coronary Bypass Surgery? (VIDEO)

Watch this video to learn what coronary bypass surgery entails and how it is performed.

Restoring Flow

Your heart is the workhorse of your body, both a miracle of biology and a marvel of endurance. It started beating about 6 weeks after you were conceived, and it will continue to beat about 100,000 times a day, 35 million times in a year. In an average lifetime, this fist-sized organ will beat more than 2.5 billion times and pump 1 million barrels of blood. That's enough to fill more than three supertankers. Read more

Stiff & Narrow

The coronary arteries can become clogged, or even completely blocked, by atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Atherosclerosis is the main cause of heart disease, which is in turn the leading cause for coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery. Read more

The Consequences of Clots

For reasons that aren't completely understood, plaques may rupture. A thrombus (blood clot) forms on or near the site of the rupture; this is the body's confused attempt to "heal" the injured vessel. Several things can happen. The clot may break away and travel to the carotid arteries of the neck or to the brain as an embolus, where it can cause a stroke. Read more

Testing & Diagnosis

Coronary artery disease can be diagnosed in numerous ways. A doctor will decide on which tests to administer depending on the patient's symptoms, medical history, and risk factors. Usually, simple tests are given first and more complicated tests are given later, if necessary. Read more

Bypass Background

There are three main locations from which a provider can take the blood vessel to be used for a bypass procedure: the patient's arms, legs, or chest. The surgeon decides which one(s) to use based on a number of factors, including the location of the blockage, the amount of blockage, and the size of the patient's coronary arteries. Time is also a consideration: in an emergency situation, readily prepared vessels must be used. The durability of the vessel is another factor the surgeon must consider. Read more

The Way to Your Heart

Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery is performed to detour blood flow around blocked arteries. It's used for patients who haven't responded to therapy with medication and who aren't good candidates for angioplasty procedures, generally because they have significant narrowing in multiple coronary arteries. Read more

New Connections

Types of Bypass
A bypass operation may be referred to, depending on the number of coronary arteries bypassed, as a single, double, triple, quadruple, or quintuple bypass. Sextuple bypasses are not unheard of. In a double bypass, the left anterior descending (LAD) artery and the right coronary artery (RCA) might be bypassed. In a triple bypass, the LAD, RCA, and left circumflex (LCX) artery might be bypassed, and a quadruple bypass might involve the LAD, RCA, LCX, and the first diagonal artery of the LAD. Read more

Recovery from Bypass

After surgery, the patient is taken to the cardiac surgery intensive care unit. Here specially trained personnel continually monitor all vital functions, including the patient's EKG, blood pressure, and the force of blood ejected from the heart. Medications to make the heart beat more quickly or more slowly may be administered. Infusions will be given to maintain fluid balance and regulate blood pressure. Any tubes that have been placed in the chest to drain blood or air will be watched. Laboratory tests will be taken to assess organ function. Read more

Lifestyle for a Healthy Heart

After bypass surgery, most people experience partial or complete remission of symptoms for as long as 10-15 years. Unfortunately, having had a bypass operation doesn't mean that your arteries won't become blocked again. Unless you take positive steps to prevent it, it's likely that other arteries or the new grafts you've received will become clogged, and you will have to undergo angioplasty or have bypass surgery again. Read more

The material on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Consult a licensed medical professional for the diagnosis and treatment of all medical conditions and before starting a new diet or exercise program. If you have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.