Coronary artery bypass grafting is a type of heart surgery that improves blood flow to the heart. It is used to treat patients with severe coronary heart disease that poses a high risk for a heart attack. It can also be used to treat blocked arteries during or after a heart attack.
During a coronary heart disease a thick substance called plaque accumulates inside the coronary arteries which supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart. After some time the plaque can narrow down the coronary arteries, thereby reducing the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart. The shortage of such blood to the heart can cause angina or chest pain.
Initially, doctors recommend lifestyle changes and medications to improve the blood flow to the heart through the blocked arteries. It can be very helpful in some cases while in other cases it might not show any improvement at all. If the medicines and lifestyle don't show any positive results, doctors may treat the blocked coronary arteries with coronary angioplasty.
Angioplasty is a nonsurgical procedure that involves placing a mesh tube called stent in a coronary artery to help keep it open by supporting the inner artery wall. However if angioplasty doesn't help much with the blocked arteries, doctors may recommend coronary artery bypass grafting to remove the blockages.
If a person is found to have severe blockages and the functioning of the heart has also grown weak, the doctors may directly recommend the coronary artery bypass surgery. The severity of coronary heart disease symptoms, the severity and location of blockages and the response to other treatments are the common factors that allow the doctors determine if a patient needs the coronary artery bypass grafting surgery or not.
To find out whether a patient needs the surgery, a doctor will check the patient's heart, lungs, and pulse and will also look symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath. The doctor will then recommend tests to find out which arteries are clogged, and how much they're clogged. These tests usually include blood tests, echocardiography, electrocardiogram, x ray, cardiac catheterization, and coronary angiography. If the tests show that the patient will need a surgery, the doctors will recommend it to be done as soon as possible.
The doctors will also recommend some lifestyle changes including quitting smoking, diet and food habits to prepare yourself for the coronary artery bypass grafting. They will also prescribe some medicines before the surgery. However if the tests show that the patient has severe coronary blockages, doctors will immediately admit the patient to the hospital for the surgery. The surgery may happen on the same day or next.
The coronary artery bypass surgery is usually very effective in improving or completely relieving angina symptoms in the patient. However the symptoms may recur after 10-15 years. Several people take repeat coronary artery bypass surgery if blockages form again in the same coronary arteries or in other coronary arteries that had been fine so far.
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