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Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery

Coronary artery bypass is also known as coronary artery bypass grafting or bypass surgery. This procedure is performed in people who have coronary artery disease and are at risk of heart failure or heart attack. Often, doctors will attempt to treat coronary artery disease through lifestyle changes or other heart procedures like angiography before deciding to perform coronary artery bypass, which is a major surgery.

The goal of coronary artery bypass surgery is to create an alternate route for blood to flow around the blocked artery. A blood vessel is taken from another part of the body to create the bypass.

Blood can then flow more freely around the blockage, providing oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body.

When more than one artery is bypassed with coronary bypass surgery, the number of bypasses is indicated, as in double bypass, triple bypass, or quadruple bypass.

You will be placed under general anesthesia prior to undergoing a coronary artery bypass. Your heart will be stopped and a heart-lung machine will be used to oxygenate your blood and pump your blood throughout your body.

The chest bone is cut and your ribcage is opened to expose the heart. The surgeon will remove a healthy artery or vein from another part of your body, usually arteries in your chest or veins in your leg. The vessel graft is used to create the bypass from the coronary artery to the aorta.

Like most major surgeries, new procedures are available that require less invasive methods. For coronary bypass surgery, methods exist that do not require your heart to be stopped and the use of a heart-lung machine. A procedure even exists to perform bypass surgery with small incisions to reach the heart without opening the chest bone. These methods are less common and are not suitable for all patients.

After surgery, lifestyle changes are important so that atherosclerosis does not develop in the bypass and to keep your heart functioning at an optimal level.


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