What is Heart Bypass Surgery?

Bypass surgery, also known as coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), is a medical procedure that has become a lifesaver for many individuals suffering from severe heart disease. In this article, we will delve into the surgery world, addressing essential aspects such as the surgery procedure, cost, recovery time, risks, and dietary considerations. We will also clarify the distinction between bypass and open-heart surgery and discuss how heart surgery is viewed in India.

What is bypass surgery?

Bypass surgery, often referred to as heart bypass surgery, is a surgical procedure used to treat coronary artery disease (CAD). In this condition, the blood vessels that supply oxygen to the heart become narrowed or blocked. This narrowing can lead to chest pain (angina) or heart attacks. During the surgery, a surgeon creates new pathways for blood to flow to the heart muscle by using healthy blood vessels from other parts of the body or artificial grafts. By doing this, the surgery bypasses the blocked or narrowed arteries, allowing the blood to reach the heart muscle more easily.

coronary artery bypass graft

open heart surgery

Open bypass surgery is a type of open-heart surgery that is used to treat blockages in the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart muscle. The surgery involves creating a new path for blood to flow around the blocked or narrowed artery using a healthy blood vessel taken from another part of the body, such as the chest, leg, or arm. This new blood vessel is called a graft. The surgery is called open because the surgeon has to open the chest and stop the heart temporarily to perform the procedure.

Different types of heart bypass surgery:

Heart surgery is a procedure to treat coronary heart disease, which occurs when the arteries that supply blood to the heart become narrowed or blocked by plaque. Plaque is a fatty substance that builds up in the walls of the arteries over time. When the blood flow to the heart is reduced, it can cause chest pain, shortness of breath, and other symptoms. Heart surgery aims to restore the blood flow to the heart by creating a new route or bypass around the blocked artery. This is done by using a blood vessel from another part of the body, such as the chest, arm, or leg, and attaching it to the heart before and after the blockage. The new vessel is called a graft.

There are different types of heart bypass surgery , depending on how many arteries are blocked and need to be bypassed. The most common types are:

  • Single bypass surgery: If one artery is blocked, one graft is used to avoid it.
  • Double bypass surgery: If two arteries are blocked, two grafts are used to bypass them.
  • Triple bypass surgery: If three arteries are blocked, three grafts are used to bypass them. This is also known as 3-bypass surgery.
  • Quadruple bypass surgery: In Quadruple bypass surgery, if four arteries are blocked, four grafts are used to bypass them. It is also called 4-bypass surgery.
  • Quintuple Bypass Surgery: Quintuple Bypass Surgery also known 5-bypass surgery, five grafts are utilized to bypass five blocked or narrowed coronary arteries.
  • Sextuple Bypass Surgery: Sextuple Bypass Surgery also known as 6-bypass surgery, six grafts are created to bypass six blocked or narrowed coronary arteries.
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What is the difference between bypass surgery and open heart surgery?

The difference between bypass and open heart surgery is that surgery is a specific type of open heart surgery. In contrast, open heart surgery is a general term that covers many different procedures on the heart.

Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) is a procedure that restores blood flow to the heart when the coronary arteries are blocked or narrowed. The surgeon takes a healthy blood vessel from another part of the body, such as the leg or chest, and attaches it to the heart, bypassing the blocked artery. This creates a new route for oxygen-rich blood to reach the heart muscle.

Open heart surgery refers to any surgery that involves opening the chest and exposing the heart. This may be done to repair or replace a damaged heart valve, insert a pacemaker or an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), correct a congenital heart defect, remove an aneurysm, or perform a heart transplant. Heart surgery is one of the most common types of open heart surgery, but not all open heart surgeries are bypass procedures.

Bypass Surgery Procedure

Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), or coronary surgery, is a sophisticated and life-saving surgical technique that treats coronary artery disease (CAD) by making new routes for blood to reach the heart muscle. Below, we'll provide a more detailed overview of the bypass surgery procedure:

  • Anesthesia: The patient is put under general anesthesia for comfort and safety.
  • Incision: A vertical incision in the chest is made, and the sternum is divided to access the heart.
  • Graft Harvesting: Healthy blood vessels (grafts) are taken, typically from the leg or chest.
  • Bypassing Arteries: Grafts are attached, rerouting blood flow around blocked coronary arteries.
  • Restarting the Heart: The heart is restarted, resuming normal function.
  • Closing the Chest: The sternum is closed, and the chest incision is sutured.

Patients usually spend several days in the hospital for recovery and post-operative care, with the full recovery period varying from person to person.

Precautions Before Bypass Surgery:

  • Quit smoking right away if you do, as it can raise the chances of infection and problems.
  • Talk to the surgeon about which drugs to keep or stop taking, especially those that can alter blood clotting, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or some supplements.
  • Have someone with you when you return home, as you will need assistance with food and chores for four to six weeks.
  • Don’t eat or drink anything after midnight on the night before surgery, as this can avoid nausea and vomiting during and after the surgery.
  • Follow any other directions given by the doctor or care team, such as doing all necessary tests by the due date, resting and eating protein-rich foods, and packing a bag with essential items for the hospital stay.

Precautions After Bypass Surgery:

  • Strictly follow the doctor’s instructions and take the medications as prescribed.
  • Do breathing and coughing exercises for 4 to 6 weeks to avoid lung infections.
  • Walk two to three times a day and slowly increase the time and intensity of physical activity.
  • Eat a diet that is good for the heart, low in saturated fat, salt, and sugar, and high in fiber, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Keep a healthy body weight and prevent obesity.
  • Stop smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke.
  • Manage high blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels.
  • Lower stress and practice relaxation methods such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing.
  • Don’t remove, scrub, rub, or apply lotion or powder on the incisions until they heal fully.
  • Don’t swim, take baths, or expose the incisions to sunlight until they recover fully.
  • Don’t lift heavy objects, drive, or do hard activities for at least six weeks after the surgery.
  • Get medical help if you have chest pain, shortness of breath, fever, bleeding, infection, or other problems.

Bypass Surgery Costs

The cost of heart surgery in India varies depending on factors such as the geographical location, the hospital, the surgeon's fees, the type of graft used, and the patient's overall health. The average cost of heart surgery in India is approximately Rs. 95,000 to Rs. 4,50,000. However, the total expense may vary depending on such conditions as:

  • The number of arteries that need to be bypassed
  • The type of graft used (artery or vein)
  • The method of surgery (on-pump or off-pump)
  • The duration of hospital stay and recovery
  • The complications and risks involved
  • The insurance coverage and medical tourism options

India has gained recognition as a destination for medical tourism due to its quality healthcare services and affordability. The cost of heart surgery in India is significantly lower compared to many Western countries. Patients worldwide often travel to India to receive high-quality medical care at a fraction of the cost they would incur in their home countries.


While heart surgery is a life-saving procedure, it is not without risks. Patients should be aware of CAGB risks and have thorough discussions with their healthcare providers before undergoing the procedure. Some potential complications and bypass surgery risks include:

Recovery After Bypass Surgery

The recovery time for Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) varies from person to person, but most patients can expect to spend several days in the hospital. During this time, they are closely monitored for any complications. The complete recovery process may take several weeks to a few months, and it involves cardiac rehabilitation, dietary modifications, and a gradual return to normal activities. However, some general guidelines for the CABG surgery recovery time process are:

  • Hospital stay( 5 to 7 days): The patient is closely monitored for complications and receives medications and treatments. Tubes and wires are removed before leaving the hospital.
  • Home recovery (7 to 10 days): The patient follows the healthcare team’s instructions, such as taking medications, changing dressings, checking for infection, and avoiding strenuous activities. The patient also makes lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, eating healthy, managing stress, and controlling blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. The patient does not drive, lift heavy objects, or have sexual intercourse for 4 to 6 weeks.
  • Cardiac rehabilitation (for several weeks or months): The patient joins a program with supervised exercise, education, counseling, and support. It helps the patient recover physically and emotionally, improve fitness, reduce future heart risk, and enhance quality of life.
  • Full recovery( 12 weeks or longer): The patient follows up with the cardiologist regularly and reports any new or worsening symptoms. The patient continues to take medications and follow lifestyle modifications.

Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) is a life-saving procedure that can improve heart function, relieve symptoms, and extend the lifespan. However, it is not a cure for heart disease, and the patient still needs to take care of their heart health after the surgery. By following the recovery guidelines and making positive changes, the patient can enjoy a better and longer life after CABG surgery.

Dietary Considerations After Bypass Surgery

Following CABG surgery, patients must pay attention to their diet. Foods to avoid after coronary bypass surgery include high-fat foods, processed meats, full-fat dairy products, high-sodium foods, sugary foods and beverages, hydrogenated and trans-fat products, excessive caffeine consumption, and alcohol, such as beer, wine, liquor, and cocktails. A heart-healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins is typically recommended to maintain cardiovascular health.

To maintain a healthy diet after the CABG surgery, you should follow these guidelines: eat healthy foods low in fat, salt, sugar, and refined grains and high in fiber, protein, and omega-3s. These foods will help your body heal and prevent complications.

Drink enough fluids, but not with meals, to avoid dehydration and dumping syndrome. Eat small, frequent meals, limit portions, and take supplements as prescribed.

In conclusion, Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) is a critical medical intervention for those suffering from coronary artery disease. Understanding the procedure, costs, risks, and recovery process is essential for individuals considering this surgery. Whether in the United States, India, or elsewhere, the decision to undergo CABG surgery should be carefully considered and in consultation with healthcare professionals.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is bypass surgery?

Bypass surgery, commonly known as coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery, is one medical procedure to improve heart blood flow. This treatment is usually performed on patients with limited or obstructed coronary arteries, which can impede oxygen and blood flow to the heart muscle.

2. What happens during bypass surgery?

Your blood may be diverted to a heart-lung bypass machine during the process. This circulates blood and oxygen throughout your body, taking over your heart and lungs.

3. How long can a bypass surgery take?

The average length of a coronary artery bypass graft procedure is 3 to 6 hours. However, the number of blood vessels being attached will determine how long it takes.

4. How long does it take to recover from bypass surgery?

It will take you between six and twelve weeks to fully recover once you are released from the hospital.

5. Which is the best hospital for bypass surgery in India?

Medicover hospitals provide international-standard patient-centric care for heart bypass surgeries in India, with some of the top cardiologists in India.

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