Is Bypass Surgery Safe for a 75-Year-Old?

Medically Reviewed on 5/18/2022
Is bypass surgery safe for 75 year old?
Most patients after CABG surgery get improvement or total remission of their symptoms and stay symptom-free for many years.

Every year, more than 300,000 people worldwide have bypass surgery. Above 70 percent of patients undergoing bypass surgery are older than 70 years. When advising a bypass surgery, surgeons consider age, general health, and any underlying diseases of the patient. 

People older than 80 years, however, are now surviving bypass surgery. Nonetheless, complications may be more in people older than 75 years. As a result, age is not the only consideration that doctors evaluate, especially with advancements in surgical methods, anesthetic, and critical care.

Other factors for recommending bypass surgery

When considering bypass surgery for someone over the age of older than 75 years, physicians examine various health conditions the patient may have in addition to age, such as:

Another aspect that appears to affect an older patient's success is the timing of the operation. A part of the preparation that the patient goes through before a planned surgery may not be possible during an emergency procedure.

Several studies on patients with senior bypass surgery report that these linked difficulties and the patient's general health are the most critical determinants predicting a favorable outcome, rather than age.

What is bypass surgery?

Coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG) or bypass surgery is heart surgery that reroutes blood around obstructed arteries to enhance blood flow and oxygen to the heart.

  • Bypass surgery can be performed on any artery in the body. However, the coronary arteries are the most involved (the arteries that supply blood to the heart).
  • A graft vein or artery is extracted from a healthy blood vessel in the body during bypass surgery. After that, the graft is surgically implanted to bypass the obstruction or blockage in the occluded or poorly performing artery.
  • Following surgery, blood will flow via the graft vessel, “bypassing” the blocked channel and delivering oxygen and nutrients to the tissue beyond the obstruction.

The most common reason for bypass surgery is to avoid or circumvent a blockage by a clot or plaque in a coronary artery due to atherosclerosis. If the blockage is not removed, the heart muscle beyond the obstruction is deprived of oxygen and nutrients, resulting in cardiac damage.

2 routinely performed coronary artery bypass surgeries (CABGs)

  1. On-pump
    • Pumped CABG is more commonly called “traditional bypass surgery.”
    • During the procedure, a heart-lung machine takes over the heart's pumping and oxygenation functions, and medicines are administered to temporarily paralyze the heart (cardioplegia).
    • The heart is entirely at rest while the surgeon performs the bypass operation in this manner.
  2. Off-pump or beating heart
    • Off-pump CABG or beating heart bypass surgery is done when a heart-lung machine is not employed, and drugs are not used to stop the heart.
    • Instead, the heart continues to pump blood and oxygenate the body as the surgeon works.
    • The surgeon stabilizes only the segment of the heart that requires the bypass, whereas the rest of the heart continues to function normally.
    • Off-pump bypass is as safe and successful as on-pump coronary bypass surgery in the right individuals according to the Journal of the American Heart Association. Many healthcare practitioners feel it may lower the risk of stroke, bleeding, and kidney failure.


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4 sources used during bypass surgery for the healthy graft blood vessel

  1. Endoscopic vein harvesting
    • The most frequent vein utilized as a bypass graft is the saphenous vein in the leg. The saphenous vein was traditionally acquired by a lengthy incision in the leg, from the groin to the ankle. This frequently results in the most post-procedural discomfort.
    • This innovative endoscopic approach only needs two or three one-inch incisions in the leg. After inserting an endoscope with a video camera into the tiny incisions, the saphenous vein is removed with significantly less scarring and damage.
  2. Arterial bypass
    • Various arteries can be utilized as grafts for bypass surgery, but the left internal mammary artery (LIMA) is the most employed.
    • As a transplant, the right internal mammary artery (RIMA) can potentially be utilized. The same chest incision used to access the heart is utilized to access these arteries.
    • The radial (in the arm) or gastroepiploic (near the stomach) arteries may be utilized on occasion, with each accessible by a separate incision.
  3. Sutureless anastomotic device
    • On occasion, surgeons will employ a sutureless device, which can be used to join a vein transplant to the aorta.
    • The saphenous vein is put onto a device that is introduced into a tiny hole in the patient's aorta made by the surgeon.
    • They then press a button, causing a small web of wires to unravel and produce a star-shaped rivet.
  4. Donor saphenous vein
    • This is a cryopreserved vein that has been housed in a tissue bank. It is based on the patient's blood type.

The length of surgery will vary depending on the number of vessels bypassed, the graft placement, on-pump or off-pump or beating-heart technique, the patient's related medical conditions, etc. However, an on-pump or off-pump, or beating-heart technique treatment usually takes between three to six hours.

Risks and risk factors of bypass surgery

Most patients after CABG surgery get improvement or total remission of their symptoms and stay symptom-free for many years. However, even CABG has benefits and risks.

6 risks of CABG

  1. Bleeding
  2. Infection
  3. Stroke
  4. Kidney failure
  5. Lung complications
  6. Death

8 risk factors

  1. Age (older than 70 years)
  2. Your health at the time of the surgery
  3. If you are having emergency surgery
  4. Smoking
  5. Poor heart muscle function
  6. Diabetes
  7. Chronic lung disease
  8. Kidney failure

It is usual for the patient to endure acute agony following surgery. The body needs time to heal, and the patient begins to feel better with each passing day. Full recovery might take up to 60 days. It is critical to follow the doctor's directions, eat healthily, and exercise regularly.

When is bypass surgery recommended over angioplasty?

Coronary artery disease (a buildup of plaque in the arteries that carry blood to the heart muscle) can cause symptoms, such as chest pain or pressure, shortness of breath, and fatigue. If medicine or catheter-based treatments, such as angioplasty, are ineffective, the patient may require a coronary artery bypass transplant (CABG).

Though it is up to your doctor to select the best therapy for you, it is vital to understand and assess your options.

CABG has frequently considered if it involves the left anterior descending artery (LAD)

  • The three coronary arteries of the heart are not created equal.
  • The primary artery is called LAD. It provides blood to the whole front wall of the heart, which includes significantly more muscle than either of the other two coronary arteries.
  • A narrowing or blockage of the LAD is more dangerous than a narrowing or blockage of another artery. Usually, bypass surgery is the best treatment for a blocked LAD.

The graft for the LAD bypass is the mammary artery, which is positioned in the chest near the heart. This is an essential consideration. Complications are rare, and CABG through the mammary artery can last decades.

CABG is best for patients

  • With diabetes
  • With more than one blocked heart artery (may improve survival rates)
  • Aged 65 years and older

CABG is used to relieve blocked cardiac arteries by rerouting blood around the obstructed artery and supplying blood flow to your heart muscle using grafts, which are arteries or veins from other regions of your body. Depending on the number of constricted coronary arteries, a patient may require one, two, three, or more bypass grafts. A hospital stay of several days may be necessary.

5 benefits of CABG

  1. Treats a blockage in the blood supply to the heart muscle
  2. Improves blood and oxygen supply to the heart
  3. Reduces chest pain (angina)
  4. Reduces the risk of having a heart attack.
  5. Improves physical activity ability that has been hampered by the affected coronary blood flow

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Medically Reviewed on 5/18/2022
Image Source: iStock Image

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Dimeling G, Bakaeen L, Khatri J, Bakaeen FG. CABG: When, why, and how? Cleve Clin J Med. 2021 May 3;88(5):295-303.

Bachar BJ, Manna B. Coronary Artery Bypass Graft. [Updated 2021 Aug 11]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022.