About every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a heart attack, according to the American Heart Association1. Many people who experience chest pain or have a heart attack can benefit from catheterization or surgery to improve their quality of life and even their longevity. One such procedure is coronary artery bypass grafting, or CABG (pronounced cabbage).
Like coronary balloons and stents, CABG is a procedure used for revascularization, or the restoration of blood flow to heart muscle that is devoid of blood, oxygen, and nutrients because of arterial blockages. Many patients will do well with coronary stents, but certain patients, especially those with diabetes, blockages in major arteries or multiple arteries, or those with weakened heart muscle, may benefit more from CABG.
During CABG surgery, an artery from inside the chest wall and a vein from the leg are used to bypass, or re-route, blood around the arterial blockages, much like cars are re-routed through an alternate path around a traffic jam on the highway.
Outcomes for heart surgery in general and CABG surgery in particular have improved dramatically since the operations were first performed just over 50 years ago. Around 200,000 CABG surgeries are performed annually in the United States, according to The Society of Thoracic Surgeons. Most patients are in the hospital for less than a week and fully recovered within a couple of months. CABG surgery is a very effective long-term treatment for chest pain and other symptoms caused by coronary artery blockages.
Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death of men and women in America. While maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and avoiding tobacco and other nicotine products are essential for heart and vascular health, many patients still go on to develop coronary artery blockages that need to be treated with revascularization.
For more information about coronary revascularization and CABG surgery, please talk to your primary care physician.