Preparing for a coronary artery bypass graft 

It's a good idea to be well prepared before going into hospital to have a coronary artery bypass graft (CABG).

You may find the advice below useful:

  • Get informed – find out as much as you can about what your operation involves. Your hospital may provide written information.
  • Arrange help – ask a friend or relative to help you at home for a week or two after coming home from hospital.
  • Sort out transport – arrange for a friend, relative or a taxi to take you to and from the hospital.
  • Prepare your home – before going for your operation, put your TV remote control, radio, telephone, medications, tissues, address book and glasses on a table next to where you'll spend most of your time when you come out of hospital.
  • Stock up – stock up on food that's easy to prepare, such as frozen ready meals, cans, and staples like rice and pasta, or prepare your own dishes to freeze and reheat during your recovery.
  • Clean up – before going into hospital, have a long bath or shower, cut your nails (don't forget to take off any nail polish) and wash your hair. Wear freshly washed clothes to help prevent taking unwanted bacteria into hospital, which can increase your risk of developing complications.

Pre-admission assessment

Before surgery, you'll attend a pre-admission clinic, where you'll be seen by a member of the team who will be looking after you in hospital.

At this clinic, you'll have a physical examination and be asked for details of your medical history. You may also have some tests such as a chest X-ray, blood tests and an electrocardiogram (ECG). During an ECG, small electrodes are put on your arms, legs and chest to record the electrical signals produced by your heart.

You'll usually be told more about the operation during your visit to the pre-admission clinic. This is a good time to ask any questions you have about the procedure, although you can discuss concerns at any time.

While at the pre-admission clinic, you'll also be asked:

  • whether you're taking any tablets or other types of medication – it helps if you bring details with you of anything you're taking (perhaps bring the packaging with you)
  • about previous anaesthetics you've had, and whether you had any problems with these, such as feeling sick
  • whether you're allergic to anything

You'll be advised to stop smoking if you smoke. This is because smoking increases your chances of developing a serious chest infection and slows down the time your wounds will take to heal. Smoking can also increase your risk of getting blood clots.

What should I take into hospital?

When getting ready for your stay in hospital, you may wish to pack:

  • a change of nightclothes and a dressing gown
  • some comfortable shoes or slippers (preferably a pair that are easily adjustable, as your feet may swell temporarily after the operation)
  • something comfortable and easy to wear during the day
  • toiletries
  • medication that you normally take
  • books, magazines, crosswords and other things to help pass the time during your recovery
  • healthy snacks for between meals
  • your address book and important phone numbers

Different hospitals tend to have different rules about personal electronic equipment. You may want to check with your hospital about their policy on the use of mobile phones, MP3 players, laptops and tablets during your hospital stay.

You'll have a bedside locker for your personal belongings, but it's a good idea to avoid taking any unnecessary valuables into hospital.

Read more advice about preparing for surgery and going into hospital.




Page last reviewed: 16/12/2015

Next review due: 30/06/2018