Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery is a procedure that aims to treat a condition called coronary heart disease (CHD) or coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD is a condition in which your coronary arteries have narrowed (coronary arteries are the blood vessels that bring oxygen as well as other nutrients to the muscle of the heart). CABG works by bypassing the narrowed or blocked coronary arteries to increase oxygen and the flow of blood to the heart.
The procedure is carried out under general anesthetic. During CABG, your surgeon takes a blood vessel (grafts) from another portion of your body (mainly from the arm, leg, or chest), then the graft is attached to the coronary artery below and above the blockage or narrowed area, thus making blood bypasses the blockage by going through the graft to reach the heart muscle. The surgery can be performed through the traditional open-heart surgery where the surgeon makes a large incision in your chest and temporarily stops your heart, or through minimally invasive surgery where the graft is put through several small incisions.
You are required to stay in the hospital for about 7 days following the surgery. However, since you should not fly home straight after you are discharged from the hospital, you should aim to stay in Bonheiden for at least 14 days or until your surgeon says it is okay for you to travel.
The full recovery period for coronary artery bypass graft can take up to twelve weeks. You can get back to most of your daily activities within 6 weeks, such as driving, working (if your job is not physically demanding), as well as having sex.
You will have to attend follow-up checkups within 6 to 8 weeks after surgery, but you can do this with your local doctor. You may also need to attend regular medical checkups and participate in cardiac rehabilitation. It is very important for you to make healthy lifestyle changes after your surgery, such as avoiding cigarettes, limiting alcohol intake, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet to prevent the grafted arteries from becoming narrowed and hardened.
CABG is one of the most common operations performed by cardiac surgeons and is considered safe and effective. But, as with all kinds of surgery, it carries some side effects and complications, such as irregular heartbeat, wound infection, bleeding, blood clots, infection, pneumonia, breathing problems, kidney failure, pancreatitis, failure of the graft, stroke, heart attack, and very rarely death.
If you do not want to undergo coronary artery bypass graft or you are not an ideal candidate for the surgery, you can consider coronary angioplasty, which is less invasive and usually has quicker recovery time. Make sure to discuss with your doctor the best option as well as the risks and benefits of each procedure.
Coronary artery disease is a serious condition that causes painful symptoms (which may include chest pain or angina and shortness of breath) and can complicate to more dangerous conditions, such as heart failure, heart attack, and in some cases, death. After CABG, all of your symptoms may be relieved and the risk of complications is significantly reduced.
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