Heart Bypass Surgery: Types, Necessity, Possibilties, How it works and Risk of Surgery

Heart bypass surgery also known as coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery or bypass surgery. This surgical procedure used to replace damaged arteries in your heart muscle and restore normal blood flow to an obstructed coronary artery.

Updated: October 7, 2017

Heart bypass surgery is also known as coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery or bypass surgery. This is a surgical procedure used to replace damaged arteries in your heart muscle and to restore normal blood flow to an obstructed coronary artery.

Blood vessels from another area of your body is taken and is used to repair the damaged arteries by a surgeon. The coronary arteries supply your heart with oxygenated blood. If these arteries are blocked or blood flow is restricted, the heart does not function properly leading to heart failure. Therefore surgery is done when coronary arteries become blocked or damaged.

Types of Heart Bypass Surgery:

Depending on how many of your arteries are blocked, a certain type of bypass surgery will be recommended for you.

  •     single bypass: only one artery is blocked
  •     double bypass: two arteries are blocked
  •     triple bypass: three arteries are blocked
  •     quadruple bypass: four arteries are blocked

Your risk of having a heart attack, heart failure, or another cardiac issue depends on the number of arteries that are blocked. The surgery may take longer or become more complex if blockage is there in more number of arteries.

Why a Heart Bypass Surgery Required?

When a sticky substance called plaque builds up inside the arteries in your heart, it blocks blood and oxygen from reaching it. Not receiving enough blood, the muscle is more likely to become exhausted and fail leading to coronary heart disease. Coronary heart disease can lead to a heart attack. It can cause a blood clot to form and cut off blood flow leading to heart failure. The damages most often affects the left ventricle, the heart's primary pump.
If your coronary arteries become so narrowed or blocked that you run a high risk of a heart attack, then a heart bypass surgery is recommended.
A bypass surgery is recommended when the blockage is too severe to manage with medication or other treatments.

How Does Heart Bypass Surgery Work?

A blood vessel called a graft, from another part of your body, such as your chest, leg, or arm will be removed. one end of it will be attached to your aorta, a large artery that comes out of your heart and the other end to an artery below the blockage. The graft creates a new route for blood to flow in. If you have multiple blockages, one or more bypass procedures during the same surgery may be done by the surgeon.

How the Possibility for Heart Bypass Surgery is Determined?

This can be done by a team of doctors, including a cardiologist who identify whether you can undergo open-heart surgery or not. Some medical conditions can complicate surgery or eliminate it as a possibility. The medical conditions that can cause complications include:

  • kidney disease
  • diabetes
  • peripheral arterial disease (PAD)
  • emphysema

If you have any of these disease, before scheduling your surgery, you need to discuss these issues with your doctor along with your family medical history and any prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications you are taking. Usually planned surgery outcomes are better than emergency surgery.

Risks of Heart Bypass Surgery:

All surgeries including heart bypass surgery carries risks which can cause many health issues. Some of the possible risk factor are:

  • bleeding
  • blood clots
  • infection
  • chest pain
  • temporary or permanent memory loss
  • arrhythmia
  • kidney failure
  • heart attack or stroke
  • fever

Once you are recovered, your symptoms of angina will be much better or almost vanish. You will be able to be more active, and you will have a lower risk of getting a heart attack.


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