Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery
Coronary artery bypass surgery is often recommended as a treatment for heart disease caused by a lack of blood reaching heart muscle tissues. It is also recommended for disease of the left main coronary artery, as well as three or more vessels affected by damage caused by symptoms of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes, among others.
Coronary artery bypass surgery will be performed after noninvasive methods and treatments have been tried without success. Such treatments may include medication, exercise, diet, and minimally invasive procedures such as angioplasty.
Who Benefits from Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery?
Many people suffering from heart disease don't realize it until damage has already occurred. Such damage may be felt through shortness of breath or chest pain called angina. Sometimes, people don't have any symptoms, while others experience moderate to severe chest pain. Coronary artery disease may often make breathing, and any physical activities, difficult.
Coronary artery bypass surgery is often an option if:
Symptoms such as pain, burning, or a squeezing sensation of pressure or heaviness in the chest often occurs. Such pain is usually felt behind the breastbone, or sternum. Some people feel these sensations in arms, jaw, and neck, though women may experience different symptoms, such as fatigue or backache.
Heart bypass surgery initiates exactly what name implies: a detour or bypass around clogged arteries through the use of arterial grafts around the damaged areas. Coronary artery bypass surgery is also called CABG, which stands for coronary artery bypass graft.
In most cases, a vein is taken from the leg to be used for the bypass. A patient will be placed under anesthesia and the surgeon will make an incision along the midline of the chest. The breastbone, or sternum, will be removed to provide access to the heart and replaced and held in place with wire following the procedure.
While the more traditional approach to any type of heart surgery, a patient was placed on a heart lung machine for the four to six hours that the surgical procedure would take. However, updated techniques in the 21st century are being used more frequently.
Avoiding the use of a heart lung machine, today's cardiovascular surgeons rely on what is called an off pump coronary artery bypass, or OPCAB, which allows the bypass to be performed while the heart still beats. This method reduces the risk of memory loss and mental confusion caused by loss of blood flow to the brain.
Another technique that has been used recently avoids splitting or removing the breastbone, or sternum. This technique is called minimally invasive direct coronary artery bypass, also known as MIDCAB.
Half a million Americans undergo coronary bypass surgery every year, and numbers are multiplying as the effects of high fat and high cholesterol diets are becoming readily apparent. However, coronary artery bypass surgical procedures are long lasting and function at optimal levels for up to 15 years. Of course, some lifestyle changes are required in patients undergoing this procedure, and they are encouraged to quit smoking, increase the amount of exercise, and improve their diet as well as to lower their cholesterol or high blood pressure.
What does it Cost?
Cardiac care in the United States is extremely expensive and heart bypass can cost up to $130,000, depending on the amount of damage and the number of graphs being placed. The average cost is around $15,000 to $30,000. The same procedures will cost roughly $10,000 in India, and $18,500 in Singapore. In South Africa, the procedure will cost roughly $12,800.
Who Performs the Surgery?
Thoracic or cardiovascular surgeons perform heart bypass surgical procedures. Many cardiac surgeons specialize in cardiovascular methods and treatment procedures after roughly five years of general surgery residency, followed by two to three years of cardiothoracic surgery residency.
As always, patients are advised to research and verify certification and licensing by checking with local and international cardiovascular surgical associations, organizations, and memberships to ensure that the physician of their choice has been adequately trained and is experienced in cardiovascular surgical procedures.
Heart Surgery Abroad, Cardiac Care Abroad