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Home > Wellness > Health Library > Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery: How to Prepare
There are many things that you can and must do in the days and weeks
coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery. Your
surgeon will give you specific instructions on how to prepare for your CABG
CABG surgery is an invasive procedure that has a fairly
long recovery time, so it is important that you prepare carefully for your
surgery as well as for the days and weeks following your surgery. Try to make
your life simpler during the recovery period by doing things such as paying
bills ahead of time and arranging for someone to assist you in the days
following your surgery. It is also important to plan for any complications that
could arise. A lot of the preparation that you do before your surgery will help
you afterward, while you are recovering.
In the 2 or 3 weeks prior to surgery, attend any
scheduled appointments with your surgeon. You will need to have several tests
done before your surgery. Most of these tests are done so that your doctors can
evaluate and compare your health before and after CABG surgery. The tests can
also help your doctors anticipate any special needs. To be ready by the day of
your surgery, the tests need to be done days or weeks before.
You may need to stop taking certain medicines a week or more before surgery, so talk to your doctor as soon as you can.
Tell your doctors all the medicines, vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies you take. Some of these can increase the risk of bleeding or interact with anesthesia. Your doctor will tell you which medicines to take or stop before your surgery.
If you take blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if you should stop taking these medicines before your surgery. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
On the day of your CABG operation, you should have only a
sip of water with any medicine so that you keep your stomach empty.
If you have diabetes, your
doctors may need to adjust your medicines to prepare for your CABG surgery.
Since CABG surgery requires you to stop eating several hours before your
procedure, your blood glucose level may drop so low that your regular
medicines (which lower your glucose level) may not be needed. Talk to your
doctors about the type and severity of your diabetes, as well as which
medicines you are taking.
should discuss complications of CABG surgery a few weeks beforehand with both
your surgeon and your family. In particular, you may wish to clarify your
desires about matters such as life support (such as a breathing tube or
medicines to keep you alive) and resuscitation measures (such as chest
compressions and electric shock) in case of an emergency.
Also, you may want to consider becoming an organ and tissue donor. If you
are an organ and tissue donor, your liver, lungs, kidneys, and other organs can
be donated to another person who needs them in case you die during your
surgery. Although only a very small percentage of all CABG surgeries done
result in death, it is important to prepare in case this happens.
(The hospital will usually provide you with shampoo,
conditioner, soap, lotion, toothbrush, toothpaste, and shaving
Plan to arrive several hours before your CABG surgery begins. Several
more tests and administrative tasks must be done before you are ready for
surgery. To learn more, see the topic
Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery: When You Arrive at the Hospital.
When you prepare for your CABG surgery, you can take
an active role. By asking questions and educating yourself, you can take
control of your experience. In your weeks of recovery after your surgery, you
will be glad that you did.
Other Works Consulted
Gray RJ, Sethna DH (2012). Medical management of the patient undergoing cardiac surgery. In RO Bonow et al., eds., Braunwald’s Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine, 9th ed., vol. 2, pp. 1793–1810. Philadelphia: Saunders.
Hillis LD, et al. 2011 ACCF/AHA Guideline for coronary artery bypass graft surgery: A report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. Circulation, 124(23): e652–e735.
April 5, 2012
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology
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