Fats and cholesterol can build up in our body over time. They can stay in places that are very fragile especially in our blood vessels. The coronary arteries that bring blood to the heart muscle can become clogged by the plaque. This can lead to the development of Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) where blood flow through the vessels is slowed down or stopped causing angina (chest pain) and worse, myocardial infarction (heart attack). The only way to prevent this from happening is to increase the blood flow to the heart.
According to the American Heart Association, a type of heart surgery called Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery, sometimes called Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG), is one treatment for CAD. In this surgery, blood is rerouted or bypassed around clogged arteries to improve blood flow and oxygen to the heart. A patient can have one or more bypass grafts depending on how many blocked arteries he may have.
General anesthesia is used for patients undergoing CABG. Usually, the surgeon makes a median sternotomy incision and connects the patient to the CPB (Cardiopulmonary Bypass) machine. Surgeons take a segment of a healthy blood vessel from another part of the body such as the saphenous vein grafting it distal to the coronary artery lesion. Through this procedure, the blocked part of the coronary artery is being bypassed. Blood can now use this new pathway to flow freely to the heart muscle. The patient needs to be admitted in the Critical Care Unit for constant monitoring.
Off-pump coronary artery bypass surgery (OPCAB) has been performed by more and more surgeons during the past several years wherein during the operation the heart continues to beat while the bypass graft is sewn in place. OPCAB have shown significant reduction of intraoperative bleeding, complications of the kidney and neurological deficits after surgery to some successful patients.
Success Rate and Post-Op Care
According to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, 85% of people who have undergone this surgery had excellent result; symptoms are significantly reduced with lesser risks of heart attacks in the future and decreased chance of dying within 10 years.
When discharged. The patient needs to committed to the follow-up checkups and cardiac rehabilitation as supervised by the physician. One should already have learned his lesson and should avoid eating foods high in cholesterol, saturated fats, and trans fat. Good nutrition paired with exercise is very important to keep ourselves healthy and alive.