Bypass Surgery

What Is Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery?

Figure 1heart1

Coronary artery bypass surgery is done to provide "detours" around the partially or completely blocked arteries. With a new open "bypass system" the heart can now receive its much needed blood supply.

Coronary artery bypass surgery is performed to provide relief of angina, to improve the pumping ability of the heart muscle, to prevent heart attacks, and to reduce the use of heart medications, all of which should improve a person's quality of life. The indications for surgery vary, depending on each patient's symptoms and findings at the time of heart catheterization. Your surgeon and cardiologist will discuss the reasons for recommending surgery to you.

The concept of coronary artery bypass surgery is very simple. The blocked arteries are bypassed using saphenous veins (which are from the leg) and/or the internal mammary artery (the vessel that runs along the inside of the breast bone). The saphenous vein is commonly used for grafts. These veins are used by the surgeon as an alternate vessel to deliver blood to the heart muscle below the point of the blockage. The surgery reroutes the blood flow to supply areas of the heart muscle not receiving enough blood (See Figure 1).

Figure 2needle

How long do the vein grafts last? You may have heard that some patients require a second operation in later years because of closure of the vein grafts and the development of recurrent angina. It is difficult to predict with certainty how long the vein grafts will last. In some cases, new blockages in the original artery below the point of attachment of the graft is the cause for closure. The chances of closure can probably be reduced with mild blood thinners such as Persantine® and Ascriptin®.

Control of further coronary artery blockages can be reduced by correcting the risk factors for coronary artery disease. This means no smoking, avoidance of salt, maintenance of a low cholesterol diet, control of blood pressure and regular exercise.

The internal mammary graft is less prone to close, therefore every effort is made to use it.

Heart Attack I Diet I Excercise I Risk Factors I Valve Symptoms I Heart Disease Symptoms
Bypass Surgery I Questions & Answers

The content on this web site is intended to provide you and your family with a better understanding of coronary artery disease, beating heart bypass surgery and endoscopic vein harvesting. This information is not intended as a substitute for an informed discussion with your physician.  We encourage you to maintain an open dialogue with you and your primary care physician.  Please feel free to print the information contained on this web site and share this information with your family and physician(s).

 Arterial & Cardiothoracic Surgery, PA
Office:  10004 Kennerly Rd., Suite 103   St. Louis, MO (314) 849-8600

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