Skip to main content

Coronary artery bypass surgery (CAB)

  • Coronary artery bypass surgery helps more blood get to your heart.

    If angioplasty and/or placing a stent does not improve your blood flow, you may need to have coronary artery bypass surgery.

    This surgery helps more blood get to your heart. A blood vessel, usually from your leg and/or chest wall, is used to make another path for blood around your blocked artery to the heart muscle. The blockage will not be removed. You may hear the abbreviation CABG, which stands for coronary artery bypass graft.

    This graphic of the heart shows two blockages and a bypass using a saphenous vein and another bypass using an internal mammary artery

    Your health care provider uses a blood vessel to make a path for blood to flow around the blockage.

  • After CAB surgery questions and answers

    Incision and other care

    expand to learn moreHow will my incision heal?

    expand to learn moreI'm worried about an infection in my incisions. What should I watch for?

    expand to learn moreDo I need to see my regular health care provider?

    expand to learn moreWhat if I miss a dose of my medicine?


    expand to learn moreHow will I know if I'm having angina or just incisional pain?

    expand to learn moreShould I take nitroglycerin if I am having angina? What about calling 911?

  • Recovery

    Recovering from your surgery or other treatment may take several weeks of steady progress before you feel like yourself again. You may feel a little weaker and tired when you arrive home. This is normal.

    It is important to slowly increase your activity to regain your strength and independence. Be sure to get plenty of rest as you return to your normal activity level.

    The following guidelines are for your recovery. Talk with your health care provider if you have any questions or concerns.

    • Take all prescription medicines (such as aspirin or Plavix®) as directed by your doctor.
    • Do not lift more than 10 pounds. In general, this lifting restriction lasts two weeks to three months. Ask your health care provider to recommend what is right for you.
    • Take a shower every day with soap that doesn't contain perfume, lotion or moisturizer. Do not take a tub bath until your incisions are completely healed and there are no scabs. This usually takes two to four weeks.
    • Do not smoke or use smokeless tobacco. Smoking increases your heart rate and blood pressure, and narrows your blood vessels. You are at an increased risk of heart attack, stroke and circulation problems. If you need help quitting smoking or using smokeless tobacco, please talk with your health care provider.
    • Exercise at least three to five times a week. It is best for you to get some form of exercise every day, such as walking.
      • Do not walk outdoors in very hot or cold weather. In extreme temperatures, do your walking in a shopping center or other community building.
      • Try to walk on level surfaces in a safe area.
      • Wait one hour after eating a moderate meal before doing exercise.
      • You should be able to have a conversation while you exercise. If you are unable to do this, or if you have any problems, rest or slow your pace until you feel comfortable.
    • Eat a well-balanced, healthful foods to promote healing. Eat frequent small meals and nutritious snacks, if you can't manage a large meal. Your appetite will gradually improve after recovery.