Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) is a type of surgery called revascularization , used to improve blood flow to the heart in people with severe coronary artery disease (CAD), when the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle become blocked due to the buildup of plaque on the inside of the blood vessels. If the blockage is severe, chest pain (also called angina), shortness of breath, and, in some cases, heart attack can occur.
CABG is one treatment for CAD. During CABG, a healthy artery or vein from another part of the body is connected, or grafted, to the blocked coronary artery. The grafted artery or vein bypasses (that is, it goes around) the blocked portion of the coronary artery. This new passage routes oxygen-rich blood around the blockage to the heart muscle. As many as four major blocked coronary arteries can be bypassed during one surgery.
Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) is only used to treat people who have severe coronary artery disease (CAD) that could lead to a heart attack. Your doctor may recommend CABG if other treatments, such as lifestyle changes or medicines, haven't worked. He or she also may recommend CABG if you have severe blockages in the large coronary arteries that supply a major part of the heart muscle with blood-especially if your heart's pumping action has already been weakened. CABG also may be a treatment option if you have blockages in the heart that can't be treated with angioplasty.
Your doctor will determine if you're a candidate for CABG based on a number of factors. These include the presence and severity of CAD symptoms, the severity and location of blockages in your coronary arteries, your response to other treatments, your quality of life, and any other medical problems you may have.
Other important notes
Although the surgery is usually done on an elective (scheduled) basis, it may need to be performed in an emergency, such as pending or during a heart attack.
Although complications are rare, risks of CABG include infection at the incision site, bleeding, reactions to the anesthesia, fever and pain, stroke, heart attack, or even death.
Recovery may take 6 to 12 weeks or more. Most people can get back to their normal activities about 6 weeks after the surgery.
Care after surgery may include followup visits with doctors, lifestyle changes to prevent further progression of CAD, and taking medicines as prescribed.