Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) (heart bypass) is a form of surgery to treat coronary heart disease. The surgery helps to divert the blood around clogged or narrowed parts of the major arteries to improve the oxygen supply and blood flow to the heart.
Reasons to carry out heart bypass
Like every other organ, the heart also needs a regular blood supply through two large blood vessels, the right and left coronary arteries. Over time, these two arteries become hardened and narrowed by the fat build-up deposits called plaques, known as atherosclerosis. People with atherosclerosis will develop coronary heart disease and have an increased chance with age.
You are more likely to develop if:
- You smoke
- You are overweight or obese
- You have a fat-based or a high-fat diet
Coronary heart disease causes angina, a form of chest pain while restricting oxygen-rich blood supply to the heart. Severe angina might require a heart bypass to improve the blood and oxygen supply to the heart.
Another risk of coronary heart disease is developing plaques in the coronary artery that create a blood clot. When it blocks the oxygen and blood supply to the heart, it often triggers a heart attack. The doctor will recommend a heart bypass to reduce the possibility of having a heart attack.
Heart bypass procedure
The heart bypass involves taking a blood vessel from another body part (typically from the chest, leg, or arm) and attaching it to the coronary artery below and above the blockage or narrowed area.
The new blood is a graft, and the required grafts will depend on the severity of coronary heart disease and the number of narrowed blood vessels. The coronary artery bypass graft or heart bypass requires a general anesthetic, where you will lose consciousness during operations that usually take between 3–6 hours.
Heart bypass complications
Similar to all other surgeries, the heart bypass also has complications. Usually, the difficulties will be minor and treatable, but there are also risks of severe complications, including heart attack or stroke.
Reviewed by – Dr. Priyanka, MBBS MD Microbiology
Page last reviewed: 16 JULY 2022