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Coronary Bypass Surgery

At Providence, we offer many tools to improve your heart health, help you function better and enable you to have a good quality of life. One of these is bypass surgery, a common type of heart surgery used to treat coronary artery disease. Thousands of people have this surgery each year.  

Arteries supply your heart with blood and oxygen that allow it to function well. Sometimes, however, your arteries can become clogged with plaque. If your heart isn’t getting the nutrients it needs, surgery to restore adequate blood flow may be necessary. 

During bypass surgery, we remove a blood vessel from your leg, arm or chest wall and use it to reroute blood around a blocked artery. Arteries work best and tend to stay unclogged longer, but we can also use veins. Sometimes we do a single bypass. But if more than one artery is narrowed, we can do several bypasses in a single operation. Surgery may: 

  • Decrease your chances of having a heart attack 
  • Help you live longer 
  • Reduce or eliminate chest pain, also known as angina, and allow you to be more active 

We perform bypass surgery while you’re under general anesthesia. This means you’ll be asleep and won’t feel any pain. The operation requires a large incision down the middle of your chest and separation of your breastbone so we can reach your heart.

In some cases, we connect you to a machine that does the work of your heart and lungs during surgery. This allows us to operate while your heart is stopped.

Most of the time, however, we operate while your heart is still beating. This is called off-pump surgery. It can lower the risk of surgery complications and lead to a quicker recovery when compared to surgeries that use the heart-lung machine. 

Surgery typically takes several hours, after which you will go to the intensive care unit before being transferred to a regular hospital room. You can expect your hospital stay to last several days to a week and your overall recovery to take at least two months.  

Complications and side effects from bypass surgery are rare. However, your overall health before surgery can impact your outcome. Possible surgery-related problems include:  

  • Abnormal heart rhythms  
  • Bleeding  
  • Death  
  • Heart attack  
  • Infection  
  • Kidney failure 
  • Memory issues  
  • Stroke