Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) is surgery used to improve blood flow to the heart. It's used for people who have severe coronary heart disease (CHD).
During CABG, a healthy artery or vein from the body is connected, or grafted, to a blocked coronary (heart) artery. The grafted artery or vein bypasses (that is, goes around) the blocked portion of the coronary artery. This improves the flow of blood and oxygen to your heart muscle.
CABG is one treatment for CHD. Not everyone who has CHD needs CABG. In people who are candidates for the surgery, the results usually are excellent. Following CABG, 85 percent of people have significantly reduced symptoms, less risk of future heart attacks, and a decreased chance of dying within 10 years.
Your doctor will decide whether you're a candidate for CABG based on a number of factors, including the presence and severity of CHD. Nonsurgical treatments, such as medicines and angioplasty, may be tried first. During angioplasty, a small mesh tube called a stent may be placed in an artery to help keep it open.
Although CABG usually is done on an elective (scheduled) basis, it may need to be done in an emergency, such as during a heart attack.There are several types of CABG that range from traditional surgery in which the chest is opened to reach the heart, to nontraditional surgery in which small incisions (cuts) are made to bypass the blocked or narrowed artery.
After surgery, you'll typically spend 1 or 2 days in an intensive care unit. You'll then be moved to a less intensive care area of the hospital for 3 to 5 days before you go home. Recovery may take 6 to 12 weeks or more.
Ongoing care after surgery may include followup visits with doctors, lifestyle changes to prevent CHD from getting worse, cardiac rehabilitation, and taking medicines as prescribed.
Although complications are rare, the risks of CABG include infection at the incision site, bleeding, reactions to anesthesia, fever and pain, stroke, heart attack, or even death.