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Coronary artery bypass graft surgery is a surgical procedure in which one or more blocked coronary arteries are bypassed by a blood vessel graft to restore normal blood flow to the heart. These grafts usually come from the patient's own arteries and veins located in the leg, arm, or chest.
Coronary artery bypass graft surgery (also called coronary artery bypass surgery, CABG, and bypass operation) is performed to restore blood flow to the heart. This relieves chest pain and ischemia, improves the patient's quality of life, and in some cases, prolongs the patient's life. The goals of the procedure are to enable the patient to resume a normal lifestyle and to lower the risk of a heart attack.
The decision to perform coronary artery bypass graft surgery is a complex one, and there is some disagreement among experts as to when it is indicated. Many experts feel that it has been performed too frequently in the United States. According to the American Heart Association, appropriate candidates for coronary artery bypass graft surgery include patients with blockages in at least three major coronary arteries, especially if the blockages are in arteries that feed the heart's left ventricle; patients with angina so severe that even mild exertion causes chest pain; and patients who cannot tolerate percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty and do not respond well to drug therapy. It is well accepted that coronary artery bypass graft surgery is the treatment of choice for patients with severe coronary artery disease (three or more diseased arteries with impaired function in the left ventricle).
Coronary artery bypass graft surgery should ideally be postponed for three months after a heart attack. Patients should be medically stable before the surgery, if possible.
Coronary artery bypass graft surgery builds a detour around one or more blocked coronary arteries with a graft from a healthy vein or artery. The graft goes around the clogged artery (or arteries) to create new pathways for oxygen-rich blood to flow to the heart.
Coronary artery bypass graft surgery is major surgery performed in a hospital. The length of the procedure depends upon the number of arteries being bypassed, but it generally takes from four to six hours—sometimes longer. The average hospital stay is four to seven days. Full recovery from coronary artery bypass graft surgery takes three to four months. Within four to six weeks, people with sedentary office jobs can return to work; people with physical jobs must wait longer and sometimes change careers.
Coronary artery bypass graft surgery is widely performed in the United States. The American Heart Association estimates that 573,000 coronary artery bypass graft surgeries were performed on 363,000 patients in 1995. Seventy-four percent of these procedures were performed on men and 44% on men and women under the age of 65 (1995 data). The estimated average cost of this procedure in 1995 was $44,820.
Author Info: Lori De Milto, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit, Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 2002
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