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  • Writer's pictureShruti GOCHHWAL

Here’s What Happens In A “Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery?”

We know well that the heart is a pivotal organ and it supplies blood to our body. But when the function of the heart turns out to be improper, what needs to be done? Well, if the issue is a major one, surgery needs to be done to restore the functions of the heart.

What is Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery?


Heart performs major functions, Credits: pixabay

Coronary artery bypass surgery is a type of surgery that helps improve the blood flow to the heart. This is done in people who have severe coronary artery disease.

Coronary bypass surgery helps in repairing the blocked or partially blocked artery in your heart to improve blood flow to your heart muscle.

This procedure involves taking a healthy blood vessel from your leg, arm, or chest and connecting it beyond the blocked portion of the coronary arteries.

The grafted artery or vein bypasses the blocked portion of the coronary artery. This creates a new passage, and oxygen-rich blood is routed around the blockage to the heart muscle.

What Causes Coronary Heart Disease?

Coronary heart disease (CHD) occurs when plaque buildup in the arteries. The arteries are supposed to supply oxygen-rich blood to your heart. Plaque is composed of fat, cholesterol, and calcium. Plaque narrows or blocks the coronary arteries and reduces blood flow to the heart muscle. If the blockage is severe, angina, shortness of breath, and, in some cases, a heart attack can occur.

The ICD code for coronary artery disease is I25.10 (

What are the Risk Factors for Developing Coronary Heart Disease?

Coronary heart disease

Smoking increases the risk of CHD, Credits: pixabay

You may be at risk of CHD if you are

  1. A Smoker

  2. Overweight

  3. Consume a high-fat diet

What is The Procedure Involved in a Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery?

Coronary artery bypass surgery

Surgery, Credits: pixabay

The procedure for Coronary Artery Bypass surgery is as follows.

  1. The person undergoing the surgery should not eat or drink for 8 hours before the procedure, generally after midnight. The person will be given general anesthesia before the surgery.

  2. An anesthesiologist will monitor your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, and blood oxygen level during the surgery.

  3. The surgeon prepares the arteries and removes the veins that will be used as bypass grafts.

  4. The surgeon makes an incision down the center of your chest, through your sternum (breast bone), so your heart and coronary arteries can be seen.

  5. The heart will be stopped for a short time, so that the surgeon can perform the bypass procedure. The “heart-lung machine” temporarily takes over the function of your heart and lungs, so that blood keeps moving throughout the rest of the body. This procedure is called “on-pump” surgery and the pump is turned off once the grafts are in place.

  6. Sometimes the surgery is done without this machine and in such cases; the procedure is referred to as “off-pump” or “beating heart” surgery”.

  7. The bypass grafts are put in place by sewing one section of the artery or vein around a tiny opening just below the blockage in the diseased coronary artery and attaching the other end to a tiny opening made in the aorta. This redirects the blood flow around the blockage.

  8. During the surgery, your surgeon will place temporary pacing wires and a chest tube before your sternum is closed with special wires. Your chest incision will be closed with internal stitches or traditional external stitches. The chest tube is needed to drain fluid.

  9. If any sorts of abnormal heart rhythm are seen, pacing wires are placed. Sometimes the wires may be attached to a temporary pacemaker until the heart rhythms turn to be normal.

  10. Depending on the number of arteries that are bypassed, the time of the surgery may vary. The usual time is three to six hours.

How Long Does It Take to Recover After Surgery?

People may need to stay in the hospital for at least seven days, after the bypass surgery.

You need to go for a follow-up visit after six to eight weeks.

The recovery time may vary depending on your medical condition.

Most people will be able to resume most of their activities in six weeks or so. Full recovery is possible in 12 weeks.

What are Common Side Effects after the Surgery?

Coronary artery bypass surgery-Side effects

A Depressed man, Credits: pixabay

Some of the common side effects after this bypass the surgery include

  1. Chest pain around the area of surgical cut

  2. Fatigue and muscle pain

  3. Constipation

  4. Loss of appetite

  5. Swelling in the area where the artery was removed for grafting

  6. Depression and mood swings

Some people may face serious complications like irregular heartbeat, memory loss, infection, kidney failure, and stroke.

What are the Precautions to Follow?


A healthy lifestyle, Credits: pixabay

Bypass surgery is not a cure for coronary artery disease. One must adapt to a healthy lifestyle by exercising regularly and consuming a healthy diet.

You should take the prescribed medicines regularly. These medicines include blood thinners, beta-blockers, diuretics, and statins.

 If necessary, your doctor may refer to cardiac rehabilitation.

Take Home Message:

Coronary Heart disease can be corrected through coronary artery bypass surgery.

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