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A coronary artery bypass is an operation where blood vessels outside the heart are used to carry blood around narrowings in the heartís coronary arteries. This operation allows blood to be brought freely to some areas of heart muscle that had a low blood supply due to narrowing of the coronary arteries. The narrowing is due to the build up of a fatty plaques over time.
How it is done
The bypass involves using a vein taken from the surface of the leg or an artery from the inner chest wall called the internal mammary artery. The surgeon attaches one end of the vein to the aorta which is the main blood vessel leaving the heart. The other end of the vein is attached to the coronary artery beyond where it is narrowed. The artery bypass involves attaching the bottom end of the internal mammary artery to the coronary artery beyond where it is narrowed.
After the bypass operation, which can take about 2 to 6 hours, you will go to the intensive care unit for a few days. Afterwards you will be brought to the regular ward and then on discharge you will be enrolled in a cardiac rehabilitation program to help you restore your health.
Numerous patients with severe angina have successfully undergone this procedure and enjoy both a longer and a better quality of life.Newer cardiothoracic techniques allow you to undergo bypass surgery without being put ona pump if your arteries are easy to get to. You may wish to discuss this option with your surgeon. The benefits however to long term neurological sequelae are not overly convincing.