Heart Institute

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Know Your Heart

Life After CABG

Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) has become a very common surgery nowadays. Thousands of patients undergo this surgery all over the world everyday. There are many technical advances in this surgery of late, eg., the surgeon now operates on most of the patients when the heart is beating, unlike earlier days when the heart was stopped with the use of the heart lung machine. With the 'beating heart' surgery (also called 'off pump' surgery) quite a few complications have been avoided. However all post CABG patients have to take some precautions and follow some simple modifications in their life style to improve the quality of life as well as to prevent future recurrence of the problem.

The following guidelines should be followed by all post-CABG patients in order to lead an almost normal life and improve their longevity. Medical follow up Lifestyle and Hobbies Diet and Exercise Relaxation and Recreation Medical Follow up

Regular medical follow up and check up of various parameters is absolutely essential not only to ensure that everything is all right with the patient but also to recognize at the earliest any complications of the surgery or side effects of medications. Many patients do not realize that even after CABG, a lot of medication has to be taken to prevent future block as well as to control other conditions like hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol levels etc.

CABG is not a cure; it is only a palliative surgery. It is not a permanent cure and therefore a lot of precautions have to be taken to avoid future problems and to keep the graft vessels patent. Therefore patients have to take their medications regularly and religiously. Ideally the patient should be seen 2-3 months after the surgery and thereafter every six months with all necessary investigations to ensure maintenance of optimal health condition.

Lifestyle and Hobbies:

All post-CABG patients should cultivate good habits and hobbies to keep their body, mind and spirit in a healthy state. A discipline lifestyle with regular timing of meals, good food habits, planning for some regular physical exercise and recreational activities is essential. In fact these habits and hobbies are good for everyone irrespective of whether they are coronary artery disease patients or post-CABG patients. Taking food and medications on time, exercising regularly, taking holidays and vacations and practicing relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation on a regular basis are some of the practices that all these patients must follow.

Diet and Exercise

Diet and exercise are the two most important factors in reducing the risk for coronary artery disease and in preventing its recurrence. Diet has to be specially planned for each individual depending on whether the person has obesity, diabetes, hypertension or high cholesterol. In general there has to be control of total calorie intake (usually less than 1,600 Kcal per day). The diet should be low in carbohydrate, low in fat, low in saturated fat, low in cholesterol and high in fiber. Each patient should be given individual specific guidelines for his/her dietary regimens. There are various diet charts available but the best way to control the diet is to modify the patient's own usual diet pattern suitably without introducing new foods and cutting away the preferred ones. For example, low sodium diet and low saturated fat diet are good for patients with hypertension. This should be achieved by modifying the quantity of the food and the amount of salt in the usual food rather than introducing some new food items in the diet.

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