Heart Bypass Surgery

Medical professionals recommend heart bypass surgery for people who struggle with the blood flow to their hearts. The surgery is also called a coronary artery bypass graft. 

People experience trouble with the blood flow to their heart when the coronary arteries get damaged or blocked. The proper functioning of these arteries is essential to keep a steady flow of oxygenated blood to your heart.

However, when the coronary arteries get blocked, the blood flow becomes restricted. As a result, the heart stops functioning properly. The situation can become so grave that it might even lead to heart failure.

Let’s explore more about it in this guide to heart bypass surgery.

Types Of Heart Bypass Surgery

Every medical condition requires a different diagnosis and a different treatment. Coronary artery blockage can vary among different patients. 

Some patients might have a large number of arteries blockage. So, the doctors might recommend heart bypass surgery based on the number of blocked arteries.

Usually, there are four kinds of heart bypass surgeries that a person might undergo.

  • Single bypass surgery occurs when a person experiences a blockage in only one artery.
  • Double bypass surgery is recommended when two arteries get blocked or damaged.
  • A triple heart bypass surgery might involve removing the blockage from three arteries.
  • Your doctor might recommend a quadruple heart bypass surgery when you experience a blockage in four arteries.

A person should get a hard bypass surgery done without delay. Blocked or damaged arteries can manifold the risk of heart attack or cardiac arrest. People often confuse a heart attack with cardiac arrest, which is not the case. Heart attack is different from cardiac arrest. In addition, it might give rise to several other cardiac issues.

Why Should You Get A Heart Bypass Surgery?

Sometimes, a lot of plaque buildup can develop on the arterial walls of a person. It is a grave situation that leads to less blood flow to the muscles of your heart. It also leads to a coronary artery disease called arteriosclerosis.

The heart needs proper blood to function efficiently. If it does not receive enough blood, there is a chance that a person might experience heart failure. So, a medical professional will advise a heart bypass surgery if your coronary artery suffers a lot of blockages. When the blockage becomes too extreme, medication cannot cure it.

Can You Undergo Heart Bypass Surgery?

Whether a patient can undergo a heart bypass surgery depends on several factors. The medical professionals or a team of doctors will determine whether a patient is eligible for heart bypass surgery.

There are a few medical conditions that might pose a threat to a person undergoing surgery. In such situations, cardiologists and medical professionals will suggest otherwise.

Usually, the medical conditions that make getting a heart bypass surgery complicated include:

  • Kidney disease
  • Peripheral arterial disease
  • Diabetes
  • Emphysema 

If a patient is undergoing any of these medical conditions, it is best to be open with your surgeon. In addition, the patient should also put forth his family medical history. He should also be open about any over-the-counter medications that he is taking.

Preparing For Heart Bypass Surgery

If your heart bypass surgery is scheduled, your surgeon and give you detailed instructions to prepare yourself. Most times, the doctors schedule the open heart surgery in advance. So, a patient might have to make several visits to the doctor. 

The doctor might ask the patient about his family health history and medical conditions. In addition, the patient might have to undergo a few tests to enable the surgeon to know about his underlying health conditions. These tests include the following.

  • Blood test
  • Chest x-ray
  • Angiogram
  • Electrocardiogram

Heart Bypass Surgery: A Guide

Once your doctor suggests a heart bypass surgery, you must make preparations to get the surgery done. Usually, the medical staff asks a patient to wear a hospital gown before beginning the surgery. The patient also receives some medications and anaesthesia for the process to be more painless and deep.

After the patient receives anaesthesia, the medical professional will perform the following steps.

Incision In The Chest

Firstly, the doctor will make an incision in the patient’s chest. Usually, the incision takes place in the middle of the chest so that a patient’s rib cage can get spread apart. It makes access to the patient’s heart easier. 

In some situations, the medical professional or a surgeon might also perform an invasive surgery involving small cuts. Usually, this takes place with robotic procedures.

Using The Cardiopulmonary Bypass Machine

Now, the doctors hook up the patient to a machine called a cardiopulmonary bypass machine. This machine helps circulate the oxygenated blood in your entire body. So, operating on a patient’s heart becomes much easier for the surgeon.

However, not all surgeons might connect you to a cardiopulmonary bypass machine. Some professionals perform an off-pump surgery. It eliminates the need to connect the patient to a cardiopulmonary bypass machine.


Eventually, the medical professional will take out healthy blood vessels from the patient’s leg. It helps bypass the damaged coronary arteries. The surgeon attaches the two ends of the graft above and below the blockage.

Final Step

After performing the above three steps, the surgeon checks the functioning of your bypass. If the functioning is satisfactory, the surgeon will stitch up and bandage the patient. The patient is then kept in an intensive care unit to monitor him for any potential complications.

Risks Involved In Heart Bypass Surgery

Like any other surgery, a heart bypass surgery also involves a few risks. Even after several technological advancements, there are a few complications involved in heart bypass surgery. For instance, a patient might experience

  • Bleeding
  • Chest pain
  • Blood clots
  • Stroke
  • Kidney failure
  • Infection
  • Arrhythmia 

Recovering From Heart Bypass Surgery

Once a person undergoes heart bypass surgery, the coronary arteries will function smoothly. However, the surgery might have a few side effects on the patient. For instance, a patient might experience

  • Pain while breathing deeply
  • Severe pain while coughing
  • A little pain where the incision was made

The doctors might keep you under observation in the intensive care unit. During this time, the medical professional team checks your body’s vital signs. Once the doctors are satisfied with your stable condition, they move you to another ward or a room. A patient might have to stay in the hospital for a few days. 

Once a patient is ready to leave, the medical professionals advise the patient to care for himself.

  • The medical professionals tell you about taking care of your incision wounds.
  • They recommend getting adequate rest and enough sleep.
  • Doctors also suggest that a person stays away from heavy lifting.

After undergoing heart bypass surgery, a patient might take up to 12 weeks to recover. The breastbone might take up to 6-12 weeks to heal. So, the patient should refrain from heavy exertion.

Wrapping It Up

Heart bypass surgery can be a lengthy procedure depending upon the kind of blockage the patient has. A person should get heart bypass surgery at the earliest to avoid the risk of heart failure. 

After the heart bypass surgery, if you experience any extreme pain or discomfort, you should get a follow-up appointment with your surgeon. Also, if you develop a fever over 100 Fahrenheit, you should visit your medical professional. In addition, a rapid heart rate or redness around the incision also calls for the services of your heart bypass surgeon.

The heart bypass surgery will improve the functioning of your coronary arteries, and your heart will receive proper blood flow. However, the patient must make lifestyle changes to sustain the long-term effects of the surgery.