Heart Bypass Surgery
Heart Bypass Surgery
Heart bypass surgery is the simple term for a coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) or a coronary artery bypass surgery. This surgery is performed to treat coronary heart disease or angina. A person is considered to be suffering from heart disease when one of the arteries in the heart has narrowed. The narrowing of the arteries reduces the supply of blood to the heart which may lead to a heart attack (myocardial infarction).
Narrowing of arteries is caused by accumulation of plaque, which are fatty deposits in the arteries. When plaque has accumulated in the arteries, this condition is called atherosclerosis. Coronary heart disease is attributable to a number of factors such as a high fat diet, no physical activity, obesity, diabetes and cigarette smoking. These factors are all lifestyle related. However, a family history of coronary heart disease is also a risk factor.
As the name suggests, heart bypass surgery involves having the narrowed artery or arteries bypassed. This is done by grafting an artery or vein from another part of the body. The surgeon will decide from which part of the body he will be grafting and this will normally depend on the place where the arteries are blocked, the extent of the blockage in the arteries and the patient’s coronary arteries size.
The most common grafting done for a heart bypass surgery is from the thoracic or internal mammal arteries. These are arteries from the chest. These arteries are favored for this type of surgery for a number of reasons. For one, the surgeon need not make any other incision other than the one to access the heart as the arteries are within the same area. Also, in some cases, the thoracic arteries need not be severed or moved from their origin. Another reason for the popularity of these grafts is that they seem to provide the best results in the long term.
The next type of grafting quite commonly done for heart bypass surgery is the radial artery graft. The radial artery is one of two arteries in the lower arm. The other artery is called the ulnar artery. The radial artery is grafted in certain cases because the ulnar artery is able to provide enough blood supply to the arm. Patients with conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome or poor blood circulation in the arms and fingers generally are not good candidates for this type of heart bypass surgery graft.
The other arteries that can be grafted for heart bypass surgery are in the leg (saphenous veins) in the stomach (inferior epigastric artery or the gastroepiploic artery).
A person can have a single, double, triple, quadruple or quintuple bypass depending on the number of arteries that are bypassed during the heart bypass surgery.