Coronary artery bypass graft surgery, also commonly known as heart bypass surgery, is a procedure done to redirect blood flow from diseased, blocked arteries to allow improved blood flow to the heart.
The American Heart Association reports coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG), is one of the most frequently performed surgical procedures in America, with some 450,000 operations in 2004. CABG surgery is often an open-chest process.
The hardening of arteries by atherosclerotic plaque, composed primarily of cholesterol, is the most common cause of arterial blockage, which can intensified by high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes and high blood pressure. As arteries narrow, blood flow is restricted, denying the heart the oxygen it needs to function, which causes chest pains - also known as angina - and can eventually lead to heart attack when the artery (or arteries) becomes completely blocked.
In CAGB surgery, the patient's chest is opened and bypass grafts are established, creating a connection between the aorta and a vein gathered from the leg or an artery harvested from the forearm.
A post-surgery hospital stay of four to seven days is not unusual, and complete recovery can take between three and four months. Also, a patient could be unable to work or drive for several weeks.
Recovery consists of a variety of treatments, including physical and respiratory therapy. The long-term success rate for patients - in terms of chest pain relief and improvement in physical well-being - after CAGB surgery is high.
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