Coronary artery bypass surgery (also called coronary artery bypass grafting or CABG) is a treatment for patients with coronary artery disease.

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is narrowing or blockage of one or more of the coronary arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart. It is common for three or four coronary arteries to be bypassed during surgery.

Coronary artery bypass surgery restores normal blood flow to the heart by creating a “detour” (bypass) around the blocked artery/arteries. This is done by using a healthy blood vessel, called a graft. Grafts usually come from your own arteries and veins located in the chest, leg or arm. The graft creates a new pathway to carry oxygen-rich blood to the heart.

Do I need coronary artery bypass surgery?

Your heart doctor will order tests to find out more about your coronary artery disease. The results of these tests will be considered along with the structure and function of your heart, your age, your symptoms, other medical conditions you have and your lifestyle. This information will help your cardiologist, surgeon and you determine the best treatment option for you. The goals of the coronary artery bypass surgery are to:

  • Relieve your symptoms of coronary artery disease (such as angina [chest discomfort] or shortness of breath)
  • Help you return to your normal lifestyle and activities
  • Lower your risk of a future heart attack or other heart problems

At Cleveland Clinic, bypass surgery is often performed along with other heart surgeries, such as valve surgery, aortic aneurysm surgery or surgery for treat atrial fibrillation (an abnormal heart beat).