CABG - Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting

Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG), also known as Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery, is a type of surgery that improves blood flow to the heart. Surgeons use CABG to treat people who have severe Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) where a waxy substance called plaque builds up inside the coronary arteries which supply oxygen-rich blood to your heart. Over time, plaque can harden or rupture. Hardened plaque narrows the coronary arteries and reduces the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart causing chest pain or discomfort called angina. If the plaque ruptures, a blood clot can form on its surface. A large blood clot can mostly or completely block blood flow through a coronary artery. This is the most common cause of a heart attack.

Symptoms of coronary artery disease may include:

  • Chest pain.
  • Abnormal heart rhythms.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Tiredness.
  • Swelling in the hands and feet.
  • Palpitations.
  • Indigestion.

Methods of Early Diagnostics

  • Cardiac catheterization or angiogram.
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG).
  • Stress test.
  • Heart scan.
  • Echocardiogram.

Types of CABG

  • Traditional CABG - Traditional CABG is used when in cases where at least one major artery is needed to be bypassed and in this surgery, the chest bone is opened to access the heart. Medicines are given to stop the heart while a heart-lung bypass machine keeps blood and oxygen moving throughout the body during surgery allowing the surgeon to operate on a still heart. After surgery, blood flow to that heart is restored. Usually, the heart starts beating again on its own however sometimes, mild electric shocks are used to restart the heart.
  • Off-Pump CABG - This type of CABG is similar to traditional CABG where the chest bone is opened to access the heart. But here, the heart isn't stopped, and a heart-lung bypass machine is not used. Off-pump CABG sometimes is also called beating heart bypass grafting.
  • Minimally Invasive Direct CABG -  This type of surgery differs from traditional CABG as the chest bone isn't opened to reach the heart. Several small cuts are made on the left side of the chest between the ribs and this type of surgery mainly is used to bypass blood vessels at the front of the heart.

This bypass is a fairly new procedure and is not right for everyone, especially if more than one or two coronary arteries need to be bypassed.

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