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Heart Bypass Surgery: Options and Considerations

Heart Health > > Heart Bypass Surgery: Options and Considerations

Heart bypass surgery is an increasingly common medical procedure. As the rate of heart diseases increase, heart bypass surgery is also on the rise. Former President Clinton recently had a heart bypass operation completed and has recovered successfully. What exactly is heart bypass surgery and under what circumstances is it required?

To understand heart bypass surgery, it helps to have knowledge about the way the heart works. Coronary arteries are arteries that bring blood to the heart muscle. Over time, coronary arteries can become clogged by plaque. Plaque is an accumulation of fat, cholesterol and other substances that forms after prolonged ingestion of foods containing saturated fats and trans fats. This deposit restricts or stops blood flow through the heart's blood vessels, leading to symptoms such as chest pain or even a heart attack. By increasing blood flow to the heart muscle, heart bypass surgery can relieve chest pain and reduce the risk of additional heart attacks.

When one of the heart's arteries gets blocked and a person suffers a heart attack, one common procedure is to perform open heart surgery and install a new piece of blood vessel to reroute blood past the blockage. Typically, if a heart surgeon detects other potential blockages, a heart surgeon will fix not only the immediate problem, but also other arteries on the heart that are starting to look problematic. A triple bypass occurs when a heart surgeon repairs three of the arteries, and a quadruple bypass occurs when four arteries are repaired.

When performing heart bypass surgery, heart surgeons obtain a piece of a healthy blood vessel from another part of the body to bridge the blocked part of the coronary artery. The surgeon may prefer to use veins from legs or arms for this purpose. The vein is attached to the aorta, or the large artery that leaves your heart, to the coronary artery that is located below the area of blockage.

A patient may undergo one, two, three or more bypasses, depending on how many coronary arteries are blocked. After a heart bypass surgery is completed, the patient remains hospitalized in the hospital's cardiac intensive care unit. Doctors monitor heart rate and blood pressure regularly for up to 24 hours after surgery. Depending on the case, medications can be administered intravenously to the patient that regulate circulation and blood pressure. Post surgery, a endotracheal tube (for breathing) will remain on the patient until he or she awakes and the doctor is confident that the patient can breathe comfortably on

Patients of heart bypass surgery stay in the hospital at least three to five days and sometimes for longer periods of time. During their stay, various tests will be administered to evaluate and monitor the patient's heart health and the state of their heart. After release from the hospital, the patient may experience side effects such as appetite loss, swelling in the area where a blood vessel was removed, fatigue, or muscle pain. Patients can receive prescription painkillers to ease the side effects.

Heart Health > > Heart Bypass Surgery: Options and Considerations