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Overview of Triple Bypass Surgery and Recovery

written by: Roma Lightsey, RN, BSN • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 3/30/2010

A patient needs to be knowledgeable about their triple bypass surgery and recovery. In this article you will learn about triple bypass surgery and how recovery is important to the healing process.

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    Triple bypass surgery is performed when there is a blockage in more than one artery or one has coronary artery disease. The blockage impedes blood flow that can be life threatening by causing one to have a heart attack or stroke. The surgery is performed to create new ways for the blood to flow to correct the blocked artery. In this article you will learn about triple bypass surgery and recovery and the importance of both.

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    Preparing for Surgery

    The doctor will give the patient specific instruction that they will need to follow prior to surgery. These instructions include dietary changes and activity restrictions in order to prepare themselves for surgery. These instructions are very important for triple bypass surgery and recovery. The patient must also have several pre-surgery tests that will include chest x-rays, blood tests, electrocardiogram, and a coronary angiogram. Some patients are admitted to the hospital the day of the surgery but is not always the case.

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    Triple Bypass Surgery

    A triple bypass surgery can take from three to six hours and will require general anesthesia. Once the patient receives anesthesia, a breathing tube will be placed in through their mouth. The breathing tube is connected to a ventilator which will breathe for them during and immediately after the procedure. The tube is removed once the patient can breathe on their own.

    During the procedure, the surgeon uses a vein or artery from another part of the patient's body to create a new route through which the blood can flow. The detour the surgeon creates is called a graft. Most commonly, a vein (saphenous) from the leg is used. The vein is removed from the leg by making an incision on the inner part of the thigh. This vein runs from the ankle to the groin area. The saphenous vein is attached in two places, above the blocked artery and underneath it. This new route is used for the blood to flow through, bypassing the blocked artery. During a triple bypass surgery, three grafts are made.

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    Once is the procedure is over, the patient will spend a day or two in intensive care. This is so the doctor and nurses can keep a watch on the patient's heart, blood pressure, breathing, and other vital signs. If no complications occur, the patient should be released from the hospital in a week. Full recovery should take about six to twelve weeks.

    The patient should continue to follow the instructions given to them prior to surgery. Following these life changes can help prevent further heart problems in the future. These life changes include keeping a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Also, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, reduce cholesterol levels, controlling blood pressure, and managing diabetes is very important.

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    References Surgery: What is a Triple Bypass Heart Surgery? -

    Health Directories: Overview of Triple Bypass Surgery -