Triple Bypass Surgery: Long-Term Care

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Long-term care after triple bypass surgery involves surveillance of your cardiovascular health, medication to manage risk factors, and maintaining consistent heart-healthy lifestyle habits. Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), is an open-heart surgical procedure that's done to treat blocked or partially blocked coronary arteries (the arteries that provide blood to heart muscles). Triple bypass surgery is a three-vessel CABG.

While the surgery aims to correct the immediate problem, long-term care is necessary to address underlying arteriosclerosis and prevent the development of blockages that could cause a heart attack in the future.

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Benefits of Surgery

The ultimate purpose of a triple bypass procedure is to ensure the delivery of oxygen to the heart muscle.

Other benefits of the procedure include:

  • Preventing angina and other coronary heart disease symptoms
  • Improving the pumping action of the heart
  • Ability to resume a more active lifestyle
  • Improving your quality of life
  • Lowering the risk of a heart attack
  • Improving life expectancy
  • Decreasing stroke risk
  • Preventing arrhythmias (irregular heart rhythm)

Possible Future Surgeries

Future heart surgeries may be necessary after triple bypass surgery if the vessels become obstructed again or if different vessels become obstructed.

Triple bypass surgery results in improved blood flow in a few areas in which the coronary arteries are severely diseased. But the surgery does not correct the underlying coronary artery disease (CAD). That requires medication and modifications in your diet, exercise, and lifestyle.

Without appropriate post-operative care, CAD can worsen, potentially necessitating additional bypass surgeries or stent placement. Bypass reoperation surgery often has a higher incidence of morbidity and mortality than an initial bypass procedure.

Lifestyle Adjustments

Triple bypass surgery lowers the risk of a heart attack; however, it does not prevent future plaque build-up that can lead to a heart attack.

After your surgery, it is important to make the recommended lifestyle changes in order to prevent future consequences to your health.

Healthy Diet

Obesity, hypertension (chronically high blood pressure), high cholesterol, and diabetes (chronically elevated blood sugar) can all increase your risk of CAD. Your diet can modify these problems, even if you have already had consequences necessitating triple bypass surgery.

It's recommended that you consume a diet that high in omega-3 fatty acids and low in saturated and trans fats. Control portion size, eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and avoid high sodium intake.

The Mediterranean diet, which is based on lean protein, vegetables, fruits, and nuts, is considered a heart-healthy diet. And the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet.

The DASH diet includes:

  • Whole grains
  • A variety of fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Skinless poultry and fish
  • Legumes, including beans and lentils
  • A small number of nuts and seeds, several times per week
  • Limited sodium intake
  • Limited amounts of lean red meat
  • Minimal trans fat, saturated fat, total fat, and sweets

A nutritionist can help you develop a plan for a healthier eating lifestyle.

Smoking Cessation

Smoking damages artery walls and directly contributes to CAD. Quitting smoking slows the progression of heart disease. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about strategies and programs you can use to help you quit.

The AHA has a variety of resources available to you to help quit, including support groups.

Engage in Physical Activity

Physical activity is important for physical and emotional well-being. Once you have received clearance from your healthcare provider, try to engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a day. Moderate-intensity is defined as an activity that's strenuous enough to leave you slightly breathless.

Examples include:

  • Mowing the lawn
  • Tennis
  • Hiking
  • Power walking
  • Bicycling on a flat surface

Weight Loss

Consult your healthcare provider regarding your ideal body mass index (BMI). If you are overweight, losing weight is one of the ways to prevent diabetes, CAD, hypertension, and heart disease. Losing weight will take dedication, including a consistent combination of diet and exercise.

Limit Alcohol Intake

According to the Dietary Guideline for Americans, women should not have more than one drink per day and men no more than two drinks per day. This definition refers to the amount consumed on any single day and is not intended as an average over several days.

Other important post-operative measures after triple bypass surgery include reducing stress, anxiety, and depression and controlling high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Methods of managing these issues can involve counseling and/or medication.

A Word From Verywell

Recovery after triple bypass surgery takes time. It is also important to manage underlying CAD through lifestyle modifications including diet, exercise, smoking cessation, and stress reduction. There are numerous resources available to you. Talk to your healthcare provider to plan the next steps on the road to recovery and health.

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Article Sources
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  1. Bakaeen FG, Akras Z, Svensson LG. Redo coronary artery bypass grafting. Indian J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2018 Dec;34(Suppl 3):272-278. doi:10.1007/s12055-018-0651-1

  2. American Heart Association. The American Heart Association diet and lifestyle recommendations. Updated August 15, 2017.

  3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. "2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans." 8th Edition. December 2015.