Health and Fitness

Getting Ready for a Bypass Operation

A coronary artery bypass operation can help patients suffering from blocked or narrowed arteries. This is a common procedure for people whose heart might not be able to pump blood around the body effectively. During the surgery, surgeons will take a healthy blood vessel from another part of your body to bypass the blocked arteries in your heart. This new pathway improves blood flow and can ease the symptoms of angina or coronary artery disease.

The procedure is invasive and has a long recovery time. So, it is necessary to have several tests before the bypass operation. This article will help you understand how you can prepare for both the surgery itself, and the recovery period after.

How to prepare for tests before a bypass operation

In the weeks leading up to your heart surgery, you’ll likely need to attend scheduled appointments with your surgeon or at a pre-admission clinic. Cardiologists will conduct tests so that they can evaluate your health before and after the surgery and identify any possible risk factors that might lead to complications. You can be better prepared for your bypass operation by performing these tests as early as possible.

These are the most common tests and how to prepare for them.

Blood tests

Blood tests can help your Doctors identify your blood count. If you are anaemic (you have a low red blood cell count), your blood count may need to be increased before or during the surgery. This is done with a blood transfusion.

Blood tests may also assess the health of your kidney and liver and measure your blood’s ability to clot. The latter is done by measuring your Prothrombin time (PT). Such a test may be necessary if you’ve recently stopped taking blood thinners to ensure the drugs no longer impact your blood’s clotting abilities.

You may be asked to avoid eating and drinking for several hours before in preparation for a blood test.

Chest x-rays (CT angiograms)

An X-Ray of your chest helps Doctors see where your arteries are narrowed, blocked or damaged and will therefore require bypassing. It’s essential to have these scans for before and post-surgery comparison. In addition, contrast material (dye) might be injected to provide a clearer image of your heart, lungs and surrounding arteries.

You’ll likely be asked not to eat anything for roughly four hours before your test and avoid caffeinated drinks. If you’re a woman, you should inform your doctor if there is any risk that you might be pregnant. If you are breastfeeding, it may help to pump breast milk ahead of time or arrange formula until the contrast material has cleared from your system. This usually takes about 24 hours.

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

An ECG measures the rhythm and speed of your heartbeat. It does this by placing small electrodes on your arms, legs and chest to record the electrical signals your heart produces. The procedure is painless and non-intrusive and doesn’t require much preparation.

You may need to shave your chest or arms for the sensors to be applied properly.

Other considerations before your surgery

Pre-admission testing is a great time to ask your Doctor questions about the surgery and prepare yourself. It’s also a chance for your Doctors to confirm your medical history and ask some final questions.

If you’re taking medication, take the packet of your meds with you to the appointment so that the doctor can assess any side effects that might risk complications during the surgery.

You will also be prompted to tell your doctor if you have any allergies or have ever experienced an adverse reaction to anaesthetics. Even seemingly unimportant side effects, such as a bit of nausea will be taken into consideration.

If you are a smoker, you must stop as far ahead of the surgery as possible. Smoking can increase the risk of blood clots and your chance of developing a severe chest infection. It will also slow down the time it takes for your wound to heal after the surgery.

If you have diabetes, you may need to adjust your medicines to prepare for your surgery. In addition, your bypass surgery requires you to stop eating several hours beforehand, so your blood sugar may drop. Talk to your doctor about your type and severity of diabetes.

Getting ready for your surgery

Your bypass operation will likely leave you weakened for up to two weeks after. This means you will need to avoid strenuous tasks and may need assistance.

When you get ready for your surgery, you should wash thoroughly, remove any nail polish, and wear clean clothes. This will reduce any contaminants you might carry into the hospital with you. Your doctors may even give you a disinfecting solution to clean your skin with.

Pack a hospital bag with everything you need and wear comfortable clothes that won’t be likely to aggravate your wound after the surgery. You should also follow instructions about when to stop eating and drinking – if you don’t, your surgery may be cancelled.

You’ll also need to prepare for the weeks following your operation.

  • Prepare transport to get you to and from the hospital.
  • Ask friends or family for assistance in the weeks following your surgery.
  • Prepare the space at home where you will spend most of your time in the next few weeks. Make sure everything you might need is within easy reach, including entertainment, tissues, any medication, your phone, etc.
  • Stock up on easy-to-prepare foods and ready meals.

Don’t drink alcohol in the lead-up to your surgery.

If you have questions or concerns about your upcoming surgery, it’s helpful to talk things through with a cardiologist. So get in touch with our friendly team at Venturi Cardiology today to make an appointment.

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