Heart Health

Does the CABG surgery solve heart problems entirely? | by Nikhil Ranka | Jan, 2024

Important Note: This post is not by a health professional qualified by any medical institution. And without any question, this is not meant to substitute the advice of a medical doctor.

I first came to know about Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (abbreviated: CABG), that’s a mouthful when one of my relatives was recommended this surgery by many well-established medical professionals for their heart condition. The recommendation was to get operated as early as possible. And so happened. Given my proximity to the individual, this made me look more into the procedure and understand this better. Here are my findings on CABG (assisted by AI too) for someone who is recommended this procedure, or, someone whose loved one is recommended this.

Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) is a surgical procedure used to treat coronary artery disease. It involves taking a blood vessel from another part of the body and grafting it to the coronary artery to bypass a blockage and improve blood flow to the heart.

These are the types of CABG, at least well-known types of CABG:

Single, Double, Triple, Quadruple, all denote the total blocks bypassed during the surgery. 1, 2, 3, 4, respectively.

For those who wish to build a more general understanding of CABG, here’s a response by OpenAI’s ChatGPT, running GPT-4. Chat link. From my understanding, this is largely accurate. And now, I will share my findings, some well-known, some not so well-known.

During my research on this surgery, one thing that stood out the most was that it is not arteries, but veins that are used for grafting. Arteries and not veins. Arteries as the medical field tells us, carry oxygenated blood, and, veins oxygen-depleted blood. When arteries are blocked, why use veins for grafting? One primary reason for this is that using arteries for grafting takes longer and increases the risk of surgery. While this is understandable it was strange to not find this information readily accessible. And this was also not discussed more directly by the operating surgeon.

While this practice has been dominant across the world and continues to be so, anyone having known this would wonder — shouldn’t this be explicitly seen as a hack/patchwork? Because, in a system as complex and diverse as the human body, it would not be difficult to guess that arteries and veins would not be the same and functionally differ from each other in non-trivial ways. Their composition, construction, contraction/relaxation rates, diameter, etc.

Note: In some cases, arteries are also used. Sometimes solely, or sometimes in combination with veins

Veins have no special insurance against being blocked. It is a commonly occurring phenomenon. That, individuals after being operated find themselves in a similar position — pipes clogged again!

The arteries that were clogged in the first place, were not clogged because of something inherently faulty within the arteries themselves. There was something more that was broken in the body, a process, or, other systems that led to this. In layman’s terms, the trash found in the pipe was not because of something inherently faulty in the pipe, but, what was flowing through them and the person using the pipe.

The underlying issue of lifestyle and perhaps some other fundamental process in the body are not fixed by the surgery. There is only so much that surgery can do for one.

These reasons point towards the fact (/assumption) that CABG’s do not solve heart problems. However, as it has in the past, it will continue to provide an opportunity for individuals to resolve their lifestyle-related issues and lead a quality life. With so much happening — sternum being drilled and split, home confinement for at least 6–8 weeks, might make one assume that their problems are gone. But in reality, they have a good opportunity to resolve their heart problems with their own effort and of course with the support of a doctor.

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