What can I expect from CABG?

CABG is an excellent way to increase the amount of blood that gets to your heart. It can also remove or greatly reduce your angina. Keep in mind, though, that CABG is not a cure for CHD. Plaque may continue to build up. You may need another procedure or operation at some point in the future. Keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol at the recommended levels and eating a healthy diet will help keep the plaque from building up.

What are the risks associated with CABG?

The decision to have coronary bypass surgery is not one you should take lightly. Open-heart surgery carries all the potential risks and complications of any major surgery. Those risks can include any of the following:

  • infection
  • bleeding that requires additional surgery
  • heart attack
  • stroke
  • blood clots
  • failure of major organs, such as lungs, kidney, or liver
  • death

Talk with your doctor about the risks that most apply to you.

What should I ask my doctor before I have coronary artery bypass surgery?

Depending on how severe your CHD is, you may be able to have the less-invasive angioplasty. If your doctor recommends CABG, ask why he or she prefers it over angioplasty. Be sure you understand what the operation will accomplish. You should also ask how long you can expect the benefits to last. Be sure you understand the risks of the surgery and how long recovery will take.

If you don't think that you will remember all that your doctor is going to tell you, ask someone in your family to go with you. They can ask your doctor the questions and then explain the answers to you. You and your doctor should decide together if CABG is right for you. Part of making that decision may include your getting a second opinion from another doctor.

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