An Overview of Bypass Surgery
Coronary Artery Bypass (CAB) surgery is also known as coronary bypass, coronary bypass graft surgery or bypass surgery. In this case, a new artery is taken from leg or arm and is attached to the heart through which the blood flows to the heart. This serves as a bypass to the diseased artery. Since this surgery involves using a healthy artery from another section of the body to bypass the diseased artery which is blocked, it is known as Coronary bypass surgery. The bypass creates a new blood flow for oxygen rich blood, which the heart requires to function properly.
During bypass surgery, the sternum is divided, the heart is stopped for a while and the blood is sent via a heart-lung machine when the surgery is being performed to the rest of the body. In contrast with other types of open heart surgery, the heart chambers are not opened while doing a bypass surgery. Depending on the number of arteries that are bypassed it is called as single, double, triple or quadruple bypass.
What are the Precautions to be taken after Bypass Surgery?
Bypass surgery is a major operation in a patient’s life. It takes 6 weeks or more (4 to 12 weeks) for the overall recovery. During this period, it is essential to follow precautions to reduce problems caused from risk factors and prevent recurrence of the heart attacks.
Do's after Bypass Surgery:
Patient should follow advice of the surgeon. For 1 to 5 days after surgery, the patient is kept in the ICU and then shifted to another unit depending on the health condition.
- On day 1 after Bypass Surgery: Patients are advised to be on complete rest.
- On day 2 after Bypass Surgery: Breathing and coughing exercises to be followed under able guidance to prevent lung infections.
- On day 3 after Bypass Surgery: Walking two to three times a day is advised along with restricted liquid and solid diet.
- The same is followed on 4th and 5th day with emphasis on breathing, coughing and some physical exercises.
- Prescribed medications to be taken.
- Within 7th to 10th day, the sutures are removed from the chest and the leg. The presence of swelling is common. During the day, the patients are asked to wear elastic support stockings and to keep their leg raised during sitting.
Don'ts After Bypass Surgery:
Generally, after 7 to 10 days of hospital stay and with progress in recovery, the patient is discharged. The patient needs to take more care when at home. The things that a patient who has undergone bypass surgery must avoid are:
- Fatigue is the common problem after heart surgery. Patient should not exert, but take plenty of rest to avoid fatigue.
- Should not be involved in excessive talking.
- Should not be involved in heavy physical activities (e.g. lifting heavy things). Intense exercises should be avoided to avoid injury to the chest.
- Should not stand at one position for a long time.
- Should not sit at one position for more than an hour and should walk around for some time.
- Should not drive. Also, avoid outside travel for long duration.
- Should have diet restricted in fat/oil and salt content.
- Should not smoke and drink alcohol.
- Should control high blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol by taking medications.
Home Care and Lifestyle Changes after Bypass Surgery
When the patient arrives at home from the hospital, patient requires a home care provider for at least 15 days. They will help in the following way:
- Emotional Support after Bypass Surgery: Since it’s a difficult period for the patient, it is essential that the patient is not kept alone. Presence of close family members or a home care provider is essential to provide emotional support and care.
- Wound Care after Bypass Surgery: Cleaning of the chest incision and grafts according to the doctor’s instructions are a must.
- Check for Infections at Surgical Site after Bypass Surgery: Check for symptoms of infection on surgical site. In case symptoms of infection are there, one must take doctor’s advice in order to prevent complications.
- Medications after Bypass Surgery: They should follow the regime of delivering prescribed medicines appropriately to the patient.
Many lifestyle changes are to be made including in work pattern and diet. These include:
- Physical Activities after Bypass Surgery: Associate the patient during light household work or any other physical activities. They should take precautions that the patient does not get involved with strenuous activities, which will lead to heart problems. Caregiver should ensure that the patient takes plenty of rest between activities.
- Post Bypass Surgery Diet: Patients must take a healthy diet; however, it should not be high in salt and fat content. Excessive eating by the patient should be avoided.
- Lifestyle Changes post Bypass Surgery: Patients must not smoke, consume alcohol, and frequently travel outside.
The patient should not ignore if the patient has fever, extreme fatigue, breathlessness, dizziness, and palpitations, and should immediately contact the doctor.
Coronary Artery Bypass surgery has been very helpful for the patients with cardiovascular disease. However, it is neither a cure for arterial blockage nor does it stop the formation of new plaques in the arteries. Thus, it is necessary that the patients strictly follow prescribed diet and other habits along with regular health check-ups. These precautions will prevent formation of plaques in his future life and allow leading a healthy life.