Coronary artery bypass surgery, otherwise known as coronary artery bypass graft (CABG), refers to a surgical procedure which helps in restoring normal blood flow to an obstructed coronary artery. A normal coronary artery transports blood to & from the heart muscle itself, not through the primary circulatory system. It is carried out to relieve angina unsatisfactorily controlled by maximum tolerated anti-ischemic medication, relieve or prevent left ventricular dysfunction, or reduce the risk of death.
There are a lot of benefits of CABG. Some of them are as a follows:
- Helps in maintaining blood flow
- Lower the risk of heart attack
- Less Chest Pain
- Better quality of life
- Get More Energy for Physical Activities
The aorta is the main artery that carries blood from the heart. Two main blood vessels branch from the base of it: the right and left coronary arteries. Each of the coronary arteries has many branches.
As with any heart surgery, CABG surgery also carries some risks. Though technological advancements have improved the chances of a successful surgery, there are still some risks and complications after the surgery.
- Few risks and complications of CABG surgery:
- Arrhythmia (irregular heart rhythm)
- Blood clots
- Chest pain
- Infection of the chest wound
- Kidney problems
- Memory troubles
- Heart attack, in case of the blood clot, breaks loose soon after the surgery.
Since CABG is a major surgical treatment, even without any complications, it can take around 6 to 12 weeks to recover from the surgery. It is the least period of time that takes to heal the breastbone. At the time of discharge, the patient will be given with a set of instructions for post-surgery care; which helps in the process of healing.
CABG is considered to be a routine surgery in the past few decades. With technological advancements over time, the chances of successful surgery have improved a lot minimizing the post-surgical risks and complications. At present, the mean success rate of CABG is approximately 98%. The risk increases as the severity of the heart muscle damage and blockage of the arteries.
It is wise to wait for 2 -3 months after surgery before driving on your own. This is the amount of time it takes for the healing of your sternum (breast bone), which was cut open during surgery. Any kind of injury can cause damage if driving is started too early. Please consult with your surgical team before undertaking any activity after a bypass.
Yes, you may travel by car as soon as you are discharged. However, for the first few weeks, it is advisable to restrict your travel to less than two hours. If the drive is going to be longer, then take a break every two hours and walk around for a few minutes.
There is no reason for you to speak less after a surgery. However, during the first few days of your recovery, you might feel short of breath while speaking for a long period of time. If that is the case, your body is telling you to rest and you may stay silent for some time.
No, eating curd or watermelon has no effect on your stitches or healing process.
If there is an elevator, there is no need to climb stairs just for the sake of exercising. If you do not have an elevator and have to take the stairs, you can do so as soon as you are discharged. Keep in mind that while climbing, you should pace yourself. Take a minute's rest after climbing 10 to 12 steps during the first week after discharge. As your walking capacity increases, there is no restriction on climbing steps as long as you do not run out of breath.
It is advisable to wait for at least 1 month after surgery before returning to work. However, depending on the condition of your heart, you may be able to start light work after 2 weeks. Please consult your doctor before returning back to work.
The blockages, which are present in the arteries, remain as they were. The graft that provides the new blood supply is connected below your old blockages, thereby providing adequate blood to the heart muscle.
Since most of Heart Institute uses only arterial grafts, they will not get blocked as long as the patient takes proper care of diet, diabetes, BP, and does regular exercise. The vein grafts from the leg have a tendency to get blocked in 8-10 years time, especially in patients who have diabetes, high cholesterol, and strong family history of heart disease.
To perform your surgery, your chest-bone was cut open and stitched together after surgery. It is quite normal to feel some pain or altered sensations in your chest region for a few months after surgery. However, this pain will be different from the pain of 'angina' which you might have experienced before surgery.
For the first 2 months, avoid swimming, driving, sex, breath holding exercises, and yoga. This is because your heart is irritable and sensitive. It may lead to the irregular heartbeat and could be risky for you.
It will take about two months to recover from surgery. In the beginning, you may feel worse than you did before surgery. This is normal and is usually related to the trauma of surgery, not how well your heart is working. The way you feel after surgery depends on your overall health, the outcome of the surgery, how well you take care of yourself after surgery, and how well you felt before surgery. Most patients feel better after they recover. Call your doctor if you are concerned about your symptoms or speed of your recovery.
Your surgeon will determine the right type of bypass graft for you. The choice depends on many factors, including the location and extent of the blockage, size of the coronary arteries, availability of arteries and veins, your age and other medical conditions you have.
Coronary artery bypass graft surgery increases the blood supply to your heart, but it does not cure coronary artery disease. It is critical that you take your medications exactly as prescribed and make changes in your lifestyle to reduce your risk of future heart problems. Lifestyle changes include:
- Quit smoking
- Manage high cholesterol
- Manage high blood pressure and diabetes
- Exercise regularly
- Reach and maintain a healthy weight
- Eat a heart-healthy diet
- Control stress and anger
- Take all medications as directed
- Take part in a cardiac rehabilitation program
- See your doctor for regular follow-up visits