Heart Bypass Surgery
A heart bypass is a vascular surgery carried out to fix blockages in the coronary arteries.
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WHO IS THIS FOR
Individuals with coronary artery disease.
In an emergency, in case of a heart attack.
Individuals that have previously had other unsuccessful treatments against blocked arteries.
POTENTIAL RISKS & SIDE EFFECTS
Possibility of cognitive deficiencies.
How Does a Heart Bypass Work?
Heart bypass or coronary bypass surgery is performed when you have a blocked coronary artery. These are blood vessels that supply blood to the heart. If they are blocked, blood may stop flowing to the heart. This has severe consequences, and can cause serious chest pains, a heart attack and can also lead to death.
A typical bypass procedure works as follows:
You will be placed under general anaesthesia.
Next, the surgeon will take a blood vessel either from your arm, leg or your chest. This healthy blood vessel will be used to then ‘bypass’ the blocked artery in your heart.
The surgeon will then open your chest, and temporarily stop your heart. You will be connected to a heart-lung machine. The machine, as the name suggests, takes over the functioning of the two organs throughout the duration of the surgery.
The extracted blood vessel is attached by connecting one end just below the blocked artery, and the other end to the aorta. This way, blood flow is deflected to avoid the impaired artery.
The surgeon will place pacing wires and a chest tube in your chest. The wires are kept as a safety measure, in case you have an irregular heart rhythm. The chest tube is needed to drain fluid out.
Lastly, your heartbeat will be restored and the surgeon will take you off the heart-lung machine. They will then proceed to close your sternum with wires and then your chest will be stitched up.
What Should I Expect From This Procedure?
Heart bypass is major surgery and requires a lot of post-operative care. Medications will of course be prescribed, which you should duly adhere to. They will help to prevent blood clots, lower blood pressure, and control diabetes.
You will have to make lifestyle changes, and incorporate a diet that is suitable and healthy. An exercise regimen that is not intensive, but still regular and keeps you fit, is also vital. Avoiding smoking and managing your stress levels are also essential factors that will decide the long term success of your surgery.
Many people stay symptom-free for 10-15 years, but this will depend on your lifestyle modifications as well as how your health status was at the time of surgery. In addition, your medical history also plays a role in deciding your final result.
Lastly, be communicative. Talk to your loved ones and your doctors about any questions, doubts, and feelings you may have.