Heart bypass surgery

Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG)

  • This type of heart surgery is commonly referred to as a ‘Heart Bypass’. It can be used to relieve the symptoms of angina.

During surgery a length of blood vessel is taken from the leg, chest or arm, and attached above and below the blocked area of a coronary artery. This restores the blood supply to the heart through ‘bypassing’ the narrowed artery.

Bypass surgery can be performed on more than one narrowed coronary artery hence the terms ‘double’ and ‘triple’ bypass surgery. Unfortunately it is not possible to bypass every blood vessel that is blocked, so after surgery some people still experience some pain or tiredness, and may still require drug treatment to have as good a heart function as possible.

CABG is considered major heart surgery. It can either be performed as:

  • ‘Open heart’ surgery: which involves opening the breastbone and using a machine to keep the heart beating during surgery
  • ‘Keyhole’ surgery: a bypass operation that can be done without the need to open the breastbone or stop the heart
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