Coronary Artery Bypass Graft

It is often seen that people are suffering from severe coronary heart disease or CHD. This is a condition whereby the inner side of the coronary arteries builds up plaque, a waxy material that makes the arteries narrow. The main function of the arteries is to provide blood rich in oxygen to the heart. As the arteries get narrowed, blood flow is not allowed into the heart muscles. Further, it is seen that the condition might get severe, and cause shortness of breath, chest pain, heart attack, discomfort, and even sudden death.

In this situation, doctors recommend Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG), a common type of open-heart surgery that helps people improve their heart’s blood flow and is performed on patients with Coronary Artery Disease. In this medical procedure, the clogged artery is bypassed with a healthy artery grafted from somewhere else in the body to create a new passage for the oxygen-rich blood to pass through the heart muscle easily. This procedure would enhance the quality of life of patients in later years and also improve mortality rates related to heart diseases.


Factors that trigger the chances of Coronary Artery Disease:

1.Coronary Artery Disease increases with age


3.Excessive smoking

4.Consuming fat-rich diet

All of these lead to the deposition of plaques that narrow the arteries. Coronary artery disease generally leads to continuous chest pain or angina.


Cardiac surgeons recommend various types of surgeries depending on the number of arteries that are blocked. The four types of bypass surgeries are:

1.Single bypass: To correct a single blocked artery.

2.Double bypass: To repair two blocked arteries.

3.Triple bypass: When three arteries are blocked and need to be repaired.

4.Quadruple bypass: To repair four blocked arteries.


How is CABG surgery performed?

The patient requiring a CABG surgery needs to undergo a pre-assessment check-up with certain tests like ECG, Chest X-ray, and blood along with past medical history.

The procedure is carried out under general anesthesia that lasts for about 4 to 6 hours. No drinking or eating for at least 6 hours prior to the procedure is advisable.

The CABG process is done with utmost care and attention. Blood vessels from the leg, chest, or arm are generally used as a graft. However, surgeons prefer the blood vessels in the chest as these arteries do not narrow easily with time as compared to the other blood vessels. Depending on the number of grafts needed, you may undergo single, double, triple, or quadruple bypass. The blood is then rerouted through a bypass machine during the procedure. All this time, the heart is made to stop temporarily using medicines until new grafts are placed properly.

After all the grafts have been placed right and carefully, the surgeon puts the heart into the function using controlled electric waves. The skin is sewn with dissolvable stitches and the breastbone is made to reattach to the chest with permanent metal wires.

Normally, CABG surgery requires a hospital stay of a week or so with further recuperation at home. However, mainly the stitches. Very light activities can only be resumed after 6 weeks and regular activities in about 8 to 10 weeks.


Care needed:

Recovery at home

1.Have reduced appetite – take a light diet

2.Insomnia –experiencing improper sleep. A pain pill or a sleeping pill for a few days would help.

3.Eat fruit and fibre-rich food.

4.Have swelling – if you have a leg incision, the elevation of the limb and elastocrepe bandage will help. Wear leg stockings for at least 2 weeks.

5.Swelling or numbness at the top of the chest incision –generally disappears with time.

6.Muscle pain over the shoulder, and upper back – will be better with time. Pain medication can help.


Care of the incision – Chest

1.Bathe with mild soap and warm water.

2.Avoid scrubbing over wound dressing.

3.Avoid ointments, oils, lotions, and powder over the incision.



Take medication as advised by the doctor/cardiac surgeon for control of blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol-lowering.


Symptoms that need urgent attention

1.Heart rate of more than 120 beats with shortness of breath.

2.Sudden numbness/weakness in arm/leg

3.Severe abdominal pain

4.Chill or fever

5.Extreme fatigue

6.Continuous oozing/bleeding from the incision



Walking, and climbing up stairs must be done very carefully and slowly and only if you feel comfortable. Take a rest in between if you are uncomfortable.

1.Do light exercise if you feel better

2.Drive after it gets totally healed

3.Avoid lifting heavy objects for at least 6 weeks.

4.Stop the activity that causes shortness of breath


Nowadays, cardiac surgeons perform Coronary Artery Bypass Graft surgery on several people to cure their problems relating to blocked heart arteries. It helps to avoid many severe conditions and has relatively lesser complications because of advanced technology. The surgery usually lasts for 3 to 5 hours and takes 6 to 8 weeks to recover, fully.



Though all attempts are made to provide correct information on the subject, inadvertent & typographical errors arising out of manual intervention cannot be ruled out. It is requested to bring any such discrepancies to bring into the notice of the blogger for correction.