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Coronary artery bypass surgery is a highly effective method in relieving angina and reducing the risk of death from coronary artery disease. This surgical procedure helps to relieve chest pain, reduces fatigue and may even increase the ability to exercise while reducing the reliance on medications.

Risks and benefits

This is fairly safe procedure and for an otherwise normally functioning patient there are no conditions that could make the surgery risky. The associated risk of death is less than 1%. However, there is a slight chance of a heart attack during the surgery, because it is usually performed with the heart stopped. The risk factor associated with this complication is about 5%. On the other hand, patients that already had had a heart attack or other cardiovascular problems before, may be at increased risk of repeated heart attacks. As much as 90% of patients who undergo this surgery report a complete or serious relief of their symptoms. For most of them it is a life saving procedure.

Causes

Coronary artery bypass surgery is conducted on patients suffering from serious form of the coronary artery disease. This is a condition in which fatty cholesterol plaque builds up inside the coronary arteries, narrowing them and reducing the blood flow to the heart muscle. Plaque can also facilitate the formation of blood clots or thrombosis. Blood clots may form inside of the arteries and partially or totally chunk the blood circulation to the heart muscle.

There are two types of blockage that occur in the bloodstream. The first kind is the partial blockage that most commonly results in chest pain or angina. It occurs because of the heart muscle is not getting enough oxygen. Patients suffering from angina may also need to undergo the coronary artery bypass surgery. Angina is most commonly caused by the coronary artery disease.

The second type of blockage that occurs in the bloodstream is a complete or total blockage. If this kind of blockage happens, heart muscle is not getting any oxygen from the blood flow and its cells are gradually starting to die. This state is known as myocardial infarction, or heart attack.

Diagnosis

Coronary artery disease is diagnosed on the basis of symptoms and examinations. Doctors usually perform physical examinations and blood tests. The most commonly used diagnostic tools are the exercise stress test, a cardiac nuclear scan and cardiac catheterization. Based on the outcome of this analysis, a doctor will decide if patient is suited for a coronary artery bypass surgery.

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