Bypass surgery explained
During a bypass, a healthy vessel is taken from the leg, chest or forearm and used as a bypass for a diseased coronary vessel. This restores the blood supply, even in the case of severely diseased coronary vessels.
Bypass or stent?
It is not possible to make a blanket statement about which method - stent or bypass - is better for which patient. In general, severe heart disease with many affected coronary vessels is more often treated with bypass. Acute heart attacks are usually treated with stents, as the damaged heart muscle is not put under additional strain by surgical procedures. Both methods have their advantages, but also their risks. Therefore, you should discuss with your doctor exactly which method is best for you.
Two types of bypass surgery
Bypass surgery always takes place under general anaesthesia. A bypass can be inserted by opening the chest along the sternum or – using a minimally-invasive approach - through a small incision. For the open approach, the hospital stay after surgery is generally longer due to the large wound. However, the minimally-invasive approach is not always practicable, e. g. if many coronary vessels are severely narrowed. Access to the heart in open-heart surgery is more direct, even allowing treatment in cases of severe coronary heart disease. Discuss with your doctor which procedure is best for you.
After bypass surgery
Most patients have to stay in hospital for about a week after bypass surgery.
Several weeks of rehabilitation are recommended afterwards. While you are still in hospital, you will be given detailed advice on how best to proceed so that you can return to your normal life as quickly as possible. Important: No surgery cures the underlying problem, so a healthy lifestyle with sufficient exercise is an important factor during convalescence.
After surgery, many patients wonder how much they can exert themselves. Specialised exercise groups, where trained coaches and a doctor are present, can help with this.