Coronary heart disease is the stiffening and narrowing of the coronary arteries (blood vessels) that carry nutrients and oxygen to the heart muscles.
A coronary artery bypass graft (heart bypass surgery or CABG) is performed to treat this disease.
Usually, many people suffering from the early stages of coronary heart disease don’t experience any symptoms/indications.
As the disease continues to progress, the indications for a coronary artery bypass graft gradually start to appear. They include:
- Chest pain
- Continuous fatigue
- Swelling of feet and hands
- Abnormal heart rhythm
- Shortness of breath
A coronary artery bypass graft is performed to relieve the symptoms mentioned above. It is carried out to treat the blockage in the main heart artery and the narrowing of the numerous other heart arteries.
Besides, it is carried out when angioplasty (a minimally invasive procedure that uses a balloon at the end of a small tube known as a catheter in order to enlarge the artery) has not proven effective enough.
CABG is also carried out as an emergency procedure in case of a heart attack (caused due to severe clotting of a coronary artery, a result of minimal blood supply to the heart).
Before heart bypass surgery
The patient needs to undergo tests like ECG, nuclear cardiac stress test, CT scan angiography, cardiac catheterization, coronary calcium scan, blood tests, etc.
This is done to understand the location of the blocked coronary artery and to ensure that the patient is healthy enough to undergo a major surgery like a coronary artery bypass graft.
In addition, at this stage, doctors explain every important detail about CABG – how it will be carried out, what possible complications may arise, what the recovery will look like, etc.
Thereafter, they answer any doubts patients might have and brief them about any changes required prior to surgery.
These might include stopping the intake of blood-thinning medicines at least two weeks before the surgery, not consuming anything for about 8 hours before the commencement of the surgery, etc.
Last but not least, the patient needs to sign an informed consent form to formally give consent for undergoing CABG.
During heart bypass surgery
On the day of the coronary artery bypass graft, the anesthesiologist will administer a dose of anesthesia after the patient lies on the operating bed.
An IV is connected to channel fluids and medicines into the body. A ventilator is also set up to carry out the task of breathing for the patient.
The cardiac surgeon creates a bypass by taking a blood vessel from either the arm, chest or leg and using it to make a detour around the clot.
Forthwith, the surgeon makes an incision in the middle of the chest, divides the breastbone in half, and then lifts the rib cage to reach the heart.
Then, the cardiac surgeon simultaneously stops the heart and switches on the heart-lung bypass machine, which performs the functions of the heart.
The surgeon attaches the upper end of the bypass to the aorta and its lower end to the obstructed artery, just beyond the obstruction.
Finally, the surgeon restarts the heart, places everything back where it belongs, and closes the incision with stitches.
After the 3-6-hour surgery is completed, the patient is shifted to the ICU (intensive care unit) and kept under observation for a day or two.
Here, all the vitals, including blood pressure, oxygen level, heart rate, etc., are constantly monitored.
Once all the vitals are stable and no other issues emerge, the patient is shifted to a surgical recovery room, where the usual stay consists of at least seven days.
This is done to ensure that the following coronary artery bypass graft complications don’t arise:
- Blood clots
- Abnormal heart rhythm
- Breathing difficulties
- Bypass failure
As a precaution, the patient is given medicines through an IV to prevent most complications, like blood clots, infection, pneumonia, etc.
Once the hospital stay comes to an end, the doctor usually recommends signing up for a cardiac rehabilitation program to smoothen the recovery process.
By and large, patients who have undergone a coronary artery bypass graft can resume normal activities within 6-12 weeks.
A coronary artery bypass graft is a major procedure used to treat coronary heart disease. If surgery is not performed timely, coronary heart disease can lead to fatal consequences like death.
For patients suffering from a blocked coronary artery and looking for guidance on how to proceed further with a CABG, the Cardiology OPD Department at the CK Birla Hospital can help.
The skilled healthcare practitioners at the CK Birla Hospital understand how harrowing suffering from coronary artery disease can feel. We stay up-to-date with information about the latest surgeries for heart bypass, have state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment, and compassionately guide people toward the best treatment option when it comes to heart-related problems.
To get the best personalised guidance for coronary artery disease and coronary artery bypass graft, visit the CK Birla Hospital or call us at +91 11 41592200.