Posted on Thursday, March 10, 2016
Imagine you are driving on a highway. An accident on the road brings the traffic to a halt. The traffic police redirect vehicles and create an alternate route around the congestion. Finally, you are able to get back on the road and the route is clear. A heart bypass surgery procedure is pretty similar.
A surgeon removes blood vessels from another part of your body like your chest, leg, abdomen or arm to go around, or bypass, a blocked artery. As a result, more blood and oxygen can flow to your heart again. You will be able to resume a normal lifestyle, and you will have a lower risk of getting a heart attack or other heart problems.
Heart bypass surgery also known as coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG), is recommended for patients when the coronary arteries become blocked or damaged with calcium and fatty deposits called plaques, and when the blockage is too severe to be managed with medication or other treatment. CABG is most often suggested for patients with blockages in multiple blood vessels or for patients with a blockage in their heart’s left main coronary artery, which supplies most of the blood flow to the heart’s lower left chamber, the left ventricle. If they are blocked or the flow of blood is restricted, the heart cannot function properly. This can lead to heart failure and you may experience pain in the chest or angina pectoris, irregular heartbeat and shortness of breath.
Some medical conditions such as diabetes, emphysema, kidney disease, and Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) can complicate surgery or exclude it as a possibility altogether.
As with any surgery, CABG does carry risks. The surgery generally takes 3 to 6 hours. The risks differ from person to person, depending on the severity of heart disease, type of operation, age, and the current state of health. However, recent technology advancements have helped improve the procedure, making the success rate much higher.
Some of the possible risks include:
Some tips before surgeryA lot of the preparation that you do before your surgery will help you afterward while you are recovering.
You can expect to stay in the hospital for about a week after having a bypass surgery, including at least 1 or 2 days in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).If you have an office job, you can usually go back to work in 4 to 6 weeks. While in the ICU, you will also have bandages on your chest incision and on the areas where an artery or vein was removed for grafting and several other tubes such as chest tubes, a catheter, and an arterial line as well as IV tubes attached. Most people make a full recovery within 12 weeks of the operation. However, if you experience complications during or after surgery, your recovery time is likely to take longer.
Side effects of surgeryAfter you have been discharged from the hospital, you may experience some side effects as a result of the operation. Side effects tend to disappear within 4 to 6 weeks of the operation but can include:
After bypass surgery, your doctor will recommend that you join a cardiac rehabilitation program. These programs help you make lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy, balanced diet, exercising regularly, giving up smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, treating high blood pressure and high cholesterol and learning to deal with stress.
You will visit your doctor several times after surgery for periodic checkups to track your progress. During these visits, tests may be done to see how your heart is working. Tests may include Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), stress testing, echocardiography, and cardiac CT.
Taking medicines as prescribed also is an important part of care after surgery. Your doctor may prescribe medicines to manage pain during recovery, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, reduce the risk of blood clots forming, manage diabetes or treat depression.
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