Preparing for a coronary artery bypass grafting
To prepare for coronary artery bypass grafting, your doctor may recommend several tests such as blood tests, a chest X-ray, electrocardiogram or angiogram to confirm you are in good health for the surgery. You may also need to stop taking certain medications such as blood thinners, and if you have diabetes you may also need to adjust your medication to avoid blood sugar levels from dropping to dangerous levels.
During a coronary artery bypass grafting
Coronary artery bypass grafting is performed under general anaesthesia.
The surgeon will first need to remove the veins to be used to bypass the blockage. Next, to access the coronary artery, a cut will be made through the chest and chest bone.
You will then be connected to a heart-lung machine (on-pump operation) or sections of your heart will be stabilised (off-pump operation).
One end of the bypass graft will be sewn around a small opening just below the blockage in the artery, and the other end to a small opening in the aorta. Blood will flow around the blockage through this bypass graft.
Next, a chest tube and temporary pacing wires will be inserted – the chest tube allows fluids to drain while the pacing wires will help to monitor for any abnormal heart rhythm.
What to expect after a coronary artery bypass grafting
As it will be several weeks before you can resume normal activity, it is best to make arrangements in advance for transport, housekeeping, and meals.
Recovery period for a coronary artery bypass grafting
You will remain in ICU for 1 or 2 days of observation. Most patients can leave the hospital in a week. However, it will take around 2 months to fully recover from the surgery.
Risks/complications of a coronary artery bypass grafting
The risk of complications from coronary artery bypass grafting generally depends on your overall health and may include irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmias), stroke, heart attack or kidney problems. It may also be possible to experience memory loss or have trouble thinking clearly, which often improve within 6 – 12 months.