A heart bypass surgery is a surgical procedure to treat coronary heart disease (CHD). CHD occurs when the arteries that supply oxygenated blood to the heart muscles get blocked due to plaque formation and become unable to supply the same. In the process of heart bypass, a healthy blood vessel is taken from another part of the body and grafted in order to bypass the blocked coronary artery. This reroutes the blood supply and improves the blood flow to the heart muscles.
What are the Different Types of Grafts Used in a Heart Bypass?
In order to understand how long a heart bypass lasts, it is important to primarily understand the different types of bypass grafts used:
- The Left Internal Mammary Artery (LIMA) – This artery runs on the inside of a patient’s chest wall on the left side of the body. At the time of the bypass surgery, this artery is carefully taken down and attached to the main artery that runs down the front of the heart.
- Saphenous Vein Graft (SVG) – This is a vein taken from the leg and is used as a bypass for the flow of blood towards the heart.
Although there are several other types of bypass grafts which can be used depending upon the situation, these two are the most common ones which are important to know the longevity of a heart bypass.
How Long Does the LIMA Heart Bypass Last?
The LIMA grafting is called the king of the heart bypass surgery because patients can easily sustain the whole life with the blood supply they get from this graft. It has the most superior biological properties to any other grafts and thus has a very good power of staying open. According to the recent studies the LIMA graft stays open for 95-99% after a month of operation, 90-95% after a year to five years of operation and around 80-90% or even greater after 10 years of operation or sometimes more that. However, there is only 1 LIMA graft available, and heart bypass surgery is recommended for patients having many blockages. In such cases, veins and other arteries have to be used.
How Long Does the SVG Heart Bypass Last?
The vein grafts, unlike the LIMA graft, is comparatively of inferior quality and is prone to blockages. Studies of vein grafts show up to 40% of blockages just after a year of surgery. Long-term studies show around 50% of blockage to be detected in vein grafts after 10 years of surgery.
How Long Does A Heart Bypass Surgery Last on an Average?
The longevity of a heart bypass surgery depends on various factors. For instance, the type of graft used in the heart bypass surgery is important. As mentioned earlier, Left Internal Mammary Artery (LIMA) grafting lasts the maximum compared to vein grafting because of its superior properties. It has 90% chance of remaining wide and blockage-free, even after 10 years of operation on an average. On the contrary, in case of blockages treated with SVG grafting, the bypasses are likely to remain open for about 50% after 10 years of operation. The longevity of a heart bypass surgery also depends on the lifestyle changes post operation. If the patient stays fit and healthy, the grafts are likely to stay healthy for a greater period of time.
How to Increase the Longevity of a Heart Bypass Surgery?
Proper medication should be taken after the heart bypass operation. Patients are advised to listen to the doctor and continue the treatment accordingly. Formation of further blockages can be prevented by cholesterol and blood pressure management, avoidance of smoking, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy diet.
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