Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting
Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting

Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting What Is Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting?

Four surgeons operating on a patient in an operating room Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), also called heart bypass surgery, is a medical procedure to improve blood flow to the heart. It may be needed when the arteries supplying blood to the heart, called coronary arteries, are narrowed or blocked.

Your doctor may recommend the surgery to lower your risk of a heart attack if you have coronary heart disease, or in an emergency to treat a severe heart attack.

CABG uses healthy blood vessels from another part of the body and connects them to blood vessels above and below the blocked artery. This creates a new route for blood to flow that bypasses the narrowed or blocked coronary arteries. The blood vessels are usually arteries from the arm or chest, or veins from the legs.

In traditional “open heart” CABG, your heart is stopped, and a heart-lung bypass machine takes over the job of pumping blood throughout the body. This is still the most common approach, but other techniques, called “off-pump” procedures because the heart does not need to be stopped, may be an option for some people.

As with any surgery, there are risks and possible complications. As part of your recovery from CABG, your doctor may recommend medicines and heart-healthy lifestyle changes to further reduce your symptoms, treat your disease, and help prevent complications such as blood clots. Your doctor will also talk to you about steps you can take to prevent or lower your risk for future blockages or other problems.

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