Triple Bypass Surgery: Long-Term Care

Triple bypass surgery, also known as coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), is an open-heart surgical procedure performed when a person has three blocked or partially blocked coronary arteries in the heart. Each vessel needs to be bypassed in order to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscle.

While the surgery aims to correct the immediate problem, attention to long-term healthy lifestyle changes is needed to address the underlying arteriosclerosis and prevent the development of blockages in the future.

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Benefits of Surgery

While 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:

  • Improving quality of life
  • Decreasing angina and other coronary heart disease symptoms
  • Ability to resume a more active lifestyle
  • Improving the pumping action of the heart if it has been damaged by a heart attack
  • Lowering the risk of a heart attack
  • Improving the chance of survival
  • Improving memory function and cognitive skills
  • Decreasing the risk for stroke
  • Decreasing arrhythmias

Possible Future Surgeries

Future surgeries are always a possibility after undergoing triple bypass surgery. If dramatic lifestyle changes are not made, then you may need to have additional bypass surgeries or stents placed.

Triple bypass surgery does not correct the underlying coronary artery disease. That is changed through modification in diet, exercise, and lifestyle. Without making the appropriate changes, the consequences could be dire.

Bypass reoperation surgery is very difficult and often has a higher incidence of morbidity and mortality.

Lifestyle Adjustments

Triple bypass surgery fixes the current problem; however, it does not prevent future plaque build-up or heart attacks. After surgery it is important to make significant lifestyle changes in order to prevent future complications.

Healthy Diet

Consume a diet that includes high in omega-3 fatty acids and low in saturated and trans fats. Control portion size, eat more fruits and vegetables, eat whole grains, and reduce sodium. Speaking to a nutritionist can help develop a plan for a healthier eating lifestyle.

The American Heart Association recommends the DASH diet which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH diet includes:

  • Whole grains
  • A variety of whole, fresh (not canned or processed) 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
  • A controlled, small amount of red meat, sweets, or fats
  • Limited sodium levels
  • Limited amounts of lean red meat
  • Low in trans fat, saturated fat, and total fat

Smoking Cessation

Smoking damages artery walls and directly contributes to coronary artery disease. Quitting smoking slows the progression of your heart disease. The American Heart Association has a variety of resources available to you to help quit including support groups aimed at helping individuals stop smoking.

Engage in Physical Activity

Physical activity is important not only for physical well being but also mental. 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 means an activity that's strenuous enough to leave you slightly breathless.

Activities may include:

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

Weight Loss

Consult your healthcare provider regarding the ideal body mass index (BMI) for your body. Losing weight will take dedication but can help prevent heart attacks and worsening coronary artery disease. In order to lose weight a combination of diet and exercise should be followed.

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 measures include decreasing stress, anxiety, and depression and controlling high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

A Word From Verywell

While triple bypass surgery can be scary and is a very serious operation, it is feasible to manage the underlying coronary artery disease through lifestyle modifications including diet, exercise, smoking cessation, and stress reduction. There are numerous resources available to you, talk to your healthcare provider to find the next best steps on the road to recovery and a healthier you.

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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.