Risks of triple bypass surgery

Written by stephanie daniels
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Like any other type of surgery, there are certain risks involved with triple bypass surgery. These range from risks that are likely to happen with any type of surgery to risks that are unique to heart bypass surgery itself. Risks are greater in older persons than in younger persons, and women are more likely to have complications than men are. The risks will vary according to the patient's past medical conditions.

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General Risks

Some risks are expected with any type of surgery. These risks include, but are not limited to breathing problems, infection, pneumonia, blood loss and blood clots. These problems are less likely to occur if you follow your doctor's orders following your surgery. Breathing problems and pneumonia can be avoided by doing simple breathing exercises, many of which will be taught to you by a respiratory therapist before you leave the hospital. Your doctor will probably prescribe blood thinners and a TED hose for you to wear after surgery to help prevent blood clots. Infection can be prevented by making sure to change dressings frequently according to your doctor's orders.

Heart Attack or Stroke

Triple bypass surgery involves grafting an artery or a vein from another part of your body to three of your coronary arteries to bypass blockages caused by arteriosclerosis. During the time in which the blocked coronary arteries are being manipulated, there is a risk that a blood clot can break off and travel through the heart or through the bloodstream to the brain. Blood clots that go into the heart often trigger a heart attack. Blood clots that travel to the brain can cause a stroke.

Sternal Wound Infection

During triple bypass surgery, the sternum is cut open in order to reach the heart. Because this wound is very large, there is greater risk of wound infection. In addition, because this wound is close to the heart and lungs, any type of infection has the potential to affect the heart. Strict adherence to your doctor's orders about dressing changes, compliance with taking your medications, and cleanliness during dressing changes should be of utmost importance.

Post-pericardotomy Syndrome

Post-pericardotomy syndrome is a complication that occurs in about 15 per cent of patients who have had some form of open-heart surgery. It can appear days or even weeks after surgery. Some sort of virus often triggers it. Its symptoms include a low-grade fever, tiredness, shortness of breath, chest pain or muscle pain. Symptoms often last for several weeks. Treatment includes rest and non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen.

Abnormal Heart rate

The heart generates electrical signals to trigger the contractions that push blood through the heart and out into the body. Often after open-heart surgery these signals can become disorganised and cause the heart to beat more slowly, very rapidly or irregularly. These abnormal heartbeats often do not last long and cause little or no symptoms. This condition is very common and usually resolves on its own.

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