Definition of Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG)

Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) is the most common type of heart surgery in the United States, and worldwide.

Helpful Highlights

  • Coronary artery bypass surgery is also known as "CABG" (pronounced "cabbage"), "open heart", and "bypass surgery."

  • It uses healthy vessels taken from elsewhere in the body to bypass the diseased and blocked vessels of the heart and restore blood flow.

  • It has proven to lower the risk of a future heart attack, both first and second, as well as the need for additional cardiac procedures.

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What is coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG)?

Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) is a surgical procedure to improve blood flow to the heart muscle. It may be needed when the arteries supplying blood to the heart, called coronary arteries, are narrowed or blocked. CABG can reduce symptoms such as chest pain (angina) and shortness of breath, among other symptoms.  If left untreated, the blockages can cause a heart attack, or in the case of an existing history of heart attack - another one.

CABG uses healthy blood vessels taken from another part of the body ( called harvesting) and connects them to blood vessels above and below the blocked artery. This creates a new route - or bypass - for blood to flow around the narrowed or blocked section of a coronary artery. The vessels used for bypass are usually taken from the leg, arm, or chest. A single, long vessel from any of these locations may be used to create multiple bypass segments.

CABG Leg Vessel Harvest

CABG Vessel Graft

Proven procedure

About 200,000 bypass surgeries are performed in the U.S. every year. It is the most common type of heart surgery in the U.S. and worldwide. CABG has proven to lower the risk of future heart attack, both first and second, and the need for additional cardiac procedures. It has also been proven to decrease or eliminate chest pain (called angina), improve survival rates, and lengthen life expectancy.

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