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Coronary Artery Bypass Graft

What you should know

A coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) is open heart surgery to clear blocked arteries in your heart. CABG surgery improves blood flow to your heart by bypassing (sending blood around) the blocked part of an artery. This restores blood flow to your heart and helps prevent a heart attack.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


  • You may develop an infection. You may bleed more than expected and need a blood transfusion. You may have fast, irregular heartbeats. Your heart may not get enough oxygen and have trouble pumping blood through your body after surgery. Your signs and symptoms may come back. You may need another CABG.
  • You may get a blood clot in your leg or arm. This may become life-threatening. You may have fluid buildup around your heart. This fluid puts pressure on the heart and prevents it from working properly. You may also have fluid buildup around your lungs. This may make it hard for you to breathe after surgery. These problems can be life-threatening.

Getting Ready

Before your surgery:

  • Write down the correct date, time, and location of your surgery.
  • Ask your caregiver if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.
  • Bring your medicine bottles or a list of your medicines when you see your caregiver. Tell your caregiver if you are allergic to any medicine. Tell your caregiver if you use any herbs, food supplements, or over-the-counter medicine.
  • You may be able to donate your own blood before surgery. This is called autologous blood donation. You may also ask a family member or friend with the same blood type to donate blood for you. This is called directed blood donation.
  • You may need blood or imaging tests before your surgery. Talk to your caregiver about these or other tests you may need. Write down the date, time, and location for each test.

The night before your surgery:

Ask caregivers about directions for eating and drinking.

The day of your surgery:

  • Ask your caregiver before you take any medicine on the day of your surgery. Bring a list of all the medicines you take, or your pill bottles, with you to the hospital. Caregivers will check that your medicines will not interact poorly with the medicine you need for surgery.
  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives caregivers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.
  • Caregivers may insert an intravenous tube (IV) into your vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. Through the IV tube, you may be given liquids and medicine.
  • An anesthesiologist will talk to you before your surgery. You may need medicine to keep you asleep or numb an area of your body during surgery. Tell caregivers if you or anyone in your family has had a problem with anesthesia in the past.
  • Medicines: These may be given before, during, or after your surgery.
    • Blood thinners help prevent blood clots. Blood thinners make it more likely for you to bleed or bruise.
    • Antibiotics help prevent an infection caused by bacteria.
    • Heart medicine helps strengthen and regulate your heartbeat.


What will happen:

  • An incision will be made in your chest. The ribcage will be cut or spread apart so your caregiver can reach your heart. Your caregiver may safely slow your heartbeat to attach the graft. Your heart may be connected to a bypass machine. This machine pumps blood to your body and keeps blood out of your heart during surgery.
  • A separate incision will be made to remove the graft. The graft is a piece of healthy blood vessel taken from somewhere else in your body, such as your leg. The graft vessel will be sewn to your artery above and below the block. This allows blood to flow around the blocked area to your heart muscle. After surgery, the blood will be allowed to flow through your heart. The incision where the graft came from will be closed with stitches and covered with bandages. Your chest incision will be closed. A bandage will cover your incisions to keep the area clean and dry to prevent infection.

After your surgery:

You will be taken to a room to rest until you are fully awake. Caregivers will monitor you closely for any problems. Do not get out of bed until your caregiver says it is okay. When your caregiver sees that you are okay, you will be taken to your hospital room.

Contact a caregiver if

  • You cannot make it to your surgery.
  • You have a fever.
  • You get a cold or the flu.
  • You have questions or concerns about your surgery.

Seek Care Immediately if

  • You have any of the following signs of a heart attack:
    • Squeezing, pressure, or pain in your chest that lasts longer than 5 minutes or returns
    • Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm
    • Trouble breathing
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Lightheadedness or a sudden cold sweat, especially with chest pain or trouble breathing

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (Precare)

Micromedex® Care Notes