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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?
What are the long-term results after CABG surgery?
A very small percentage of vein grafts may become blocked within the first two weeks after CABG surgery due to blood clotting. Blood clots form in the grafts usually because of small arteries beyond the insertion site of the graft causing sluggish blood run off. Another 10% of vein grafts close off between two weeks and one year after CABG surgery. Use of aspirin to thin the blood has been shown to reduce these later closings by 50%. Grafts become narrowed after the first five years as cells stick to the inner lining and multiply, causing formation of scar tissue (intimal fibrosis) and actual atherosclerosis. After 10 years, only 2/3 of vein grafts are open and 1/2 of these have at least moderate narrowings. Internal mammary grafts have a much higher (90%) 10 year rate of remaining open. This difference in longevity has caused a shift in surgical practices toward greater use of internal mammary and other arteries as opposed to veins for bypasses.
It has been shown that in CABG patients with elevated LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) levels, use of cholesterol-lowering medications (particularly the statin family of drugs) to lower LDL levels to below 80 will significantly improve long-term graft patency as well as improve survival benefit and heart attack risk. Patients are also advised about the importance of lifestyle changes to lower their chance of developing further atherosclerosis in their coronary arteries. These include stopping smoking, exercise, reducing weight and dietary fat, as well as controlling blood pressure and diabetes. Frequent monitoring of CABG patients with physiologic testing can identify early problems in grafts. PTCA (angioplasty) with stenting, in addition to aggressive risk factor modification, may significantly limit the need for repeat CABG years later. Repeat CABG surgery is occasionally necessary, but may have a higher risk of complication.