8 Questions To Ask Your Cardiologist About Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) Surgery

Heart attack is the second most common cause of death in Singapore. A heart attack happens when the coronary artery supplying blood to the heart becomes hardened or blocked. This limits or even cuts the oxygen supply to the heart. The part of the heart muscle that is oxygen-starved begins to die, resulting in a heart attack.

As your cardiologist in Singapore will tell you: a coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery is an established procedure. By replacing blocked or hardened arteries, CABG surgery restores the blood supply to your heart.

Your cardiologist will refer you to a cardiac surgeon who will perform the CABG surgery. During the surgery, the cardiac surgeon will take a healthy artery or vein from your arm, body - internal mammary artery - or leg. This healthy artery or vein is then grafted into the blockage areas.

The healthy artery restores the supply of oxygenated blood to the part of the heart that needs it. This “bypasses” the blocked or hardened arteries and allows blood to flow to the heart muscle.

How do you know if you are suitable for CABG surgery? What questions can you ask your cardiologist to prepare yourself for the procedure?

FAQs for a Cardiologist in Singapore about Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery

If you have a serious coronary heart disease that may lead to a heart attack, your cardiologist may recommend CABG surgery. They may refer you to a cardiac surgeon for a CABG surgery during or after a heart attack to treat blocked arteries.

Here are questions you may want to ask your cardiologist about what to expect before, during and after a CABG surgery:

#1. Should I stop smoking before the procedure?

If you are a smoker, it is advisable to stop smoking before the procedure. Your cardiologist may suggest some lifestyle changes, like eating healthier, reducing stress, and quitting smoking.

#2. What dietary restrictions are there before the operation?

Your cardiologist will tell you not to eat 6 hours before your operation. They will also give you a laxative to take the night before the operation to clear your bowels.

#3. After a CABG surgery, will I regain 100% of my health?

A CABG surgery before a heart attack may help prevent it, but it does not guarantee you will not suffer from a heart attack again. This is especially true if you do not change your lifestyle. Your cardiologist will recommend making healthy lifestyle changes as mentioned above.

#4. How fast is the recovery?

The pace of recovery depends on your state of health before the surgery. To help you recover, your cardiologist will tell you to attend a recovery programme.

#5. How big an incision will I have?

Your cardiac surgeon will make two incisions: one from the source of the healthy artery - usually the arm or leg - and one along the mid-section of your chest. The first incision is to harvest the healthy artery, and the second is to sew it around the coronary artery blockages.

#6. How long will the incision take to heal?

It will take between 6 weeks and 2 months for your incision to heal, assuming there are no complications.

#7. How long will it take before I can return to work?

It depends on the nature of your work. Some people may not be able to return to work after the surgery due to the severity of their heart disease. Those with desk jobs return to work in 4-6 weeks. Those who perform manual labour may have to wait 3 months.

#8. What lifestyle changes should I make?

Your cardiologist will recommend 30 minute walks every day. They will also tell you to quit smoking, eat a balanced diet low in salt, and watch your cholesterol.

Heart attack is a silent and swift killer. Talk to your cardiologist in Singapore about proactive heart care today.


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