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Triple Bypass Surgery Risks and Complications

written by: Finn Orfano • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 3/30/2010

Triple bypass surgery risks depend on a person's age and health condition. Complications of triple bypass surgery can include chest pain, infection, heart attack and stroke. Learn the different risks of triple bypass surgery and how or if they can be prevented.

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    A triple bypass surgery is performed when several arteries in the human body are blocked. The arteries are responsible for transporting blood from the heart to various parts of the body. An increased risk for heart attack develops when the arteries become blocked.

    The surgeon helps reduce this risk by creating new channels to bypass the blockage. The surgeon uses a working blood vessel from the the chest or leg, to create a bypass that will transport blood around the blocked vessel. A build up of plaque can also cause artery blockage by narrowing their passages.

    As with any surgery, risks are involved. If a person is healthy beforehand, the chance of having any complications is low. Depending on a person's age and health condition, the risks vary.

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    Chest Pain

    The return of chest pain, angina, is a common risk after triple bypass surgery. Ten to twelve years after the surgery, only half the people will be free of angina. Angina usually returns because plaque will continue to build up in the grafted arteries. Two to three percent of the people who have a triple bypass surgery will need a second operation after five years.

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    Stroke and Heart Attack

    After someone has a triple bypass surgery, heart attack and stroke is a risk. A person needs to pay attention to their body and look for the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and stroke. Regular doctor visits are important because health problems can be detected that one is unaware of. Do not ignore the signs of a heart attack or stroke, especially after surgery.

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    Triple bypass surgery risks include infection. Right after surgery the patient is put into intensive care so that doctors and nurses can monitor them closely. A patient will not be released from the hospital until the risk of infection is very little and the chance of developing one is slim.

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    Other Risks

    Other triple bypass surgery risks include anesthesia, excessive bleeding, memory loss, and death. Everyone reacts to anesthesia differently so risk is involved with this part of the procedure too. The patient can discuss these risks with their doctor before surgery.

    Excessive bleeding can occur during surgery and after surgery is performed. During surgery your doctor will be watching for bleeding. After surgery the doctor, nurses, and the patient will keep a close eye to help the prevention of excessive bleeding.

    Subtle problems can occur involving long term memory loss, comprehension, calculation skills, and concentration. The amount of time this may last can vary. The doctor can explain how long it will last and if anything can be done to help prevent the problem.

    As with any surgery, death can be a risk. No matter the type of surgery is performed, complications can lead to the risk of death. The doctor can explain what problems can occur that could lead to this risk.

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    University of Maryland Medical Center: Coronary Artery Disease Surgery -

    Health Key: Bypass Surgery Risks -,0,791249.healthwisestory

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