Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) is the leading cause of death for both men and women and the most common form of heart disease in the country. CAD occurs when the arteries narrow and harden because of atherosclerosis, a disorder where plaque lines the inner walls of the blood vessels. As the plaque deposits accumulate, it reduces the amount of blood that can flow through the arteries, diminishing the amount of blood and oxygen that reach the heart. The diminished flow can lead to angina, a condition that causes chest pain, or a heart attack. Over time, clogged arteries can also weaken muscle tissue and cause heart failure and arrhythmias.
Both of these conditions are life-threatening disorders with important distinctions. Arrhythmias are irregular heartbeats, and heart failure is the inability of your heart to circulate blood to other organs such as your brain and the rest of the body. When you are diagnosed with CAD, treatment options generally include lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet and avoiding the use of tobacco products. People with this condition usually take prescription medications and may undergo an angioplasty, which is a surgical procedure that can open the arteries. If these treatments are ineffective, we may recommend a surgical bypass to correct the clogged arteries.
What is a Coronary Bypass?
Coronary bypass is a surgical procedure that is used to create a new pathway for blood flow to the heart. Depending upon the size and location of the blocked artery, it will be surgically replaced with a portion of healthy vein, called a graft, taken from your chest, wrist or leg. One end of the blood vessel is attached below the blockage and the other end to your aorta. This creates a new route that allows blood to flow around, or bypass, the narrowed or blocked area.
Patients may require more than one bypass depending on how many arteries are blocked. The surgical procedure, which takes between three and six hours, is typically performed under general anesthesia. You may stay in the surgical center for a few days before being discharged for recuperation at home. During the recovery process, we will monitor your progress and let you know when you can return to work and normal activities. This potentially life-saving procedure can also lower your risk of heart attacks in the future.
Contact Peripheral Vascular Associates in San Antonio today for more information about the risks and benefits of coronary bypass surgery. We will discuss your medical condition and provide information on how to prepare for the operation as well as postoperative care. If you have had a heart attack previously or have been diagnosed with CAD, a bypass may be your best option.