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- Coronary artery bypass graft facts
- What is coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery?
- How does coronary artery disease develop?
- How is coronary artery disease diagnosed?
- How is coronary artery disease (CAD) treated?
- How is CABG surgery done?
- How do patients recover after CABG surgery?
- What are the risks and complications of CABG surgery?
- What are the long-term results after CABG surgery?
- How do CABG surgery and angioplasty (PTCA) compare?
How do patients recover after CABG surgery?
Sutures are removed from the chest prior to discharge and from the leg (if the saphenous vein is used) after 7 to 10 days. Even though smaller leg veins will take over the role of the saphenous vein, a certain degree of swelling (edema) in the affected ankle is common. Patients are advised to wear elastic support stockings during the day for the first four to six weeks after surgery and to keep their leg elevated when sitting. This swelling usually resolves after about six to eight weeks. Healing of the breastbone takes about six weeks and is the primary limitation in recovering from CABG surgery. Patients are advised not to lift anything more than 10 pounds or perform heavy exertion during this healing period. They are also advised not to drive for the first four weeks to avoid any injury to the chest. Patients can return to normal sexual activity as long as they minimize positions that put significant weight on the chest or upper arms. Return to work usually occurs after the six week recovery, but may be much sooner for non-strenuous employment.
Exercise stress testing is routinely done four to six weeks after CABG surgery and signals the beginning of a cardiac rehabilitation program. Rehabilitation consists of a 12 week program of gradually increasing monitored exercise lasting one hour three times a week. Patients are also counseled about the importance of lifestyle changes to lower their chance of developing further CAD. These include stopping smoking, reducing weight and dietary fat, controlling blood pressure and diabetes, and lowering blood cholesterol levels.