Reasons, Procedure and Recovery From Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) Surgery

Submitted on March 27, 2012

Coronary artery bypass graft is a surgery that helps relieve angina and reduces the risks linked with coronary artery disease. AHA statistics show that this is one of the most commonly performed procedures in the US. However, coronary artery bypass graft or CABG is usually advised only for those patients who have considerable amounts of arterial narrowing and blockages. A coronary artery bypass graft surgery creates new pathways around the narrowed arteries. This allows sufficient blood to flow to the heart muscle, supplying it with nutrients and oxygen.

Reasons for Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) Surgery

Coronary artery bypass surgery is mostly performed on patients suffering from a condition known as “arteriosclerosis”. This is an arterial disorder wherein the coronary arteries lose their elasticity and are considerably narrowed because of cholesterol deposits on the arterial wall. Since coronary arteries supply oxygenated blood to the heart, a blockage results in an insufficient amount of blood or oxygen reaching the heart. The patient thus experiences chest pains and discomfort known as angina.


Before the surgery, surgeons will have to determine a cardiopulmonary bypass. They will place plastic tubes in the right atrium to divert venous blood to a membrane oxygenator, in the heart lung machine. The purified blood is then sent back to the body. A clam is placed on the main aorta so as to provide a bloodless field and connect bypasses to it. Surgeons take either a vein from the leg or an artery from the inner chest wall to create a new route or bypass to allow blood to reach the heart. The healthy artery is grafted to the coronary artery below the area of blockage. Depending on the amount of blockage a patient may have even four bypass grafts done. Successful grafts can last up to 15 years; however, this is age dependent. Older patients are prone to suffer further coronary artery blockage.


Post surgery, patients will have to avoid certain activities for eight to twelve weeks, these include, excessive use of the arms to get up or reach for something, carrying of weights in excess of 5 pounds and other activities that can potentially cause the surgical incision to rupture or open up. Patients will also have to follow strict dietary restrictions by eating low cholesterol, low fat foods. They will have to avoid foods containing trans fat and gradually increase physical activity. In most cases, people are able to resume a normal lifestyle.