Learn more about coronary artery bypass surgery.
Cholesterol and fatty deposits that build up on the walls of the arteries of the heart can lead to heart problems like heart attack and heart failure. For patients with persistent angina or patients who have severe blockage in the main arteries or blood vessel in the heart, surgery may be necessary as a life-saving treatment. Find out what to expect from coronary artery bypass surgery.
What to expect before your surgery
Before your procedure, your doctor will perform tests and evaluations that may include a physical exam, electrocardiogram, chest X-ray and coronary angiogram. When your doctor talks to you about medications you’re currently taking, make sure your answers are accurate. You will probably be asked not to take certain medications before your procedure, particularly those that have a blood-thinning effect. When your doctor gives you your pre-operative instructions, ask any remaining questions you may have. Make sure you have a ride to and from the hospital.
What to expect during your surgery
During 4-5 hour heart bypass surgery, you will be placed under anesthesia. You won’t feel or be at all aware of the procedure itself. According to Medline Plus, most people who have coronary bypass surgery are connected to a bypass machine that does your heart’s work for it during the procedure. You may also have a different kind of bypass procedure that’s performed while your heart remains beating on its own. The doctor will use an artery or vein from somewhere else in your body to create a graft and repair your heart’s function. A patient may undergo more than one bypass graft, depending on how many coronary arteries are blocked, according to The American Heart Association.
What to expect after your surgery
Most patients stay in the hospital for 5-7 days after the procedure. Some of this time will be spent in the Intensive Care Unite. During this time, pain medication will be used to help you stay comfortable during your recovery.