Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) is surgery to treat coronary artery disease. The surgery helps blood make a detour, or bypass, around one or more narrowed or blocked coronary arteries. Coronary arteries are the blood vessels that bring blood to the heart. Your doctor did the surgery through a cut, called an incision, in your chest.
You will feel tired and sore for the first few weeks after surgery. You may have some brief, sharp pains on either side of your chest. Your chest, shoulders, and upper back may ache. The incision in your chest and the area where the healthy vein was taken may be sore or swollen. These symptoms usually get better after 4 to 6 weeks.
You will probably be able to do many of your usual activities after 4 to 6 weeks. But for 2 to 3 months you will not be able to lift heavy objects or do activities that strain your chest or upper arm muscles. At first you may notice that you get tired easily and need to rest often. It may take 1 to 2 months to get your energy back.
Some people find that they are more emotional after this surgery. You may cry easily or show emotion in ways that are unusual for you. This is common and may last for up to a year. Some people get depressed after CABG surgery. Talk with your doctor if you have sadness that continues or you are concerned about how you are feeling. Treatment and other support can help you feel better.
Even though the surgery may improve your symptoms, you will still need to make changes in your lifestyle to lower your risk of a heart attack or stroke. It will be important to eat a heart-healthy diet, get regular exercise, not smoke, take your heart medicines, and reduce stress.
You will likely start a cardiac rehabilitation (rehab) program in the hospital. You will continue with this rehab program after you go home to help you recover and prevent problems with your heart. Talk to your doctor about whether rehab is right for you.
This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
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Current as of: December 6, 2017
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & David C. Stuesse, MD - Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery
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