Coronary arteries are blood vessels that bring blood to your heart. If one or more of these arteries is blocked, your heart won’t get the nutrients it needs. In order to remove the blockage, surgery is sometimes required.

Heart bypass surgery, also called coronary artery bypass graft surgery or CABG, creates a detour around a blocked artery to improve blood flow to your heart. If you or a loved one are facing heart surgery, here is what you can expect. Learn more about the procedure itself, as well as the pros, cons, and things you should know about heart bypass surgery.

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What Happens During Heart Bypass Surgery?

During heart bypass surgery, you are put under anesthesia, which means you’re given medicine to keep you asleep while your doctor performs your surgery.

First, your doctor opens your chest to get to your heart.

Then, your doctor takes a blood vessel from another part of your body, like your leg or arm, and attaches it to your heart. This creates a detour, or bypass, around your blocked artery so that blood can flow again.

What Are the Pros of Heart Bypass Surgery?

There are many benefits to this surgery, such as:

  • Having less chest pain, or having your chest pain go away
  • Lowering your chance of a heart attack
  • Having more energy for physical activities

RELATED: Which Heart Surgery Is Best?

What Are the Cons Heart Bypass Surgery?

Heart bypass surgery is a very common and usually successful way to treat blocked coronary arteries. All surgeries have risks and the risks for this surgery can include:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Bleeding during or after the surgery
  • A change in kidney function
  • A lung infection
  • Changes in your heart rhythm
  • An allergic reaction to the anesthesia or other materials used during the surgery
  • Injuries to your nerves in your chest, arms, or legs
  • In rare cases, death

How Can I Decide What Is Best?

It’s always best to talk to your doctor, who can help you decide if heart bypass surgery is right for you.

To learn more, visit the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute online or call 1-855-UPMC-HVI (1-855-876-2484) to schedule an appointment.

About Heart and Vascular Institute

The UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute has long been a leader in cardiovascular care, with a rich history in clinical research and innovation. As one of the first heart transplant centers in the country and as the developer of one of the first heart-assist devices, UPMC has contributed to advancing the field of cardiovascular medicine. We strive to provide the most advanced, cutting-edge care for our patients, treating both common and complex conditions. We also offer services that seek to improve the health of our communities, including heart screenings, free clinics, and heart health education. Find an expert near you.