Heart bypass: animation 

This animation explains in detail how a coronary artery bypass, a surgical procedure, is performed and why it would be needed.

Learn more about coronary artery bypass graft

Transcript of Heart bypass: animation

A coronary artery bypass operation

treats severe narrowing of the arteries

that supply your heart with blood and oxygen

by bypassing the blockage.

The operation is called a coronary artery bypass graft

or heart bypass surgery.

Heart bypass surgery is carried out

to relieve the severe chest pain of angina

and to minimise the chances of a heart attack.

Sometimes the operation may be done after a heart attack

to prevent further symptoms or heart damage.

The main function of the heart is to pump blood around the body

at about 70 beats per minute.

And just like any other muscle in the body, it needs a blood supply.

This is provided by the right and left coronary arteries.

In a healthy heart, blood flow through these narrow arteries is free,

but in coronary heart disease it becomes restricted.

Coronary arteries provide oxygen-rich blood to the heart

and are lined on their inner surface by a thin layer of cells.

This inner lining can be injured due to high cholesterol levels,

high blood pressure, smoking and other factors.

When the layer of cells is damaged,

fatty deposits begin to build up on the inner walls of the arteries.

The fatty build-up reduces blood flow

and eventually causes the arteries to narrow,

a process called atherosclerosis.

If even one part of your coronary arteries narrows,

the heart muscle supplied by that artery

may no longer receive enough oxygen to work efficiently.

This can cause chest pain, known as angina,

usually treated by medication,

but this does not always prevent the pain in some patients.

If one of your coronary arteries becomes blocked,

blood supply to part of your heart is cut off.

If left untreated long enough,

this can result in damage or death of heart muscle tissue.

This is what happens in a heart attack.

In order to prevent this,

heart surgery is sometimes performed to bypass blockages

and improve the flow of blood to your heart.

In heart bypass surgery your surgeon will use healthy blood vessels

from another part of your body such as the leg or arm

and graft them around the affected areas of your coronary arteries.

In most patients, one of the blood vessels used for the grafts

is an internal mammary artery from inside the chest

as it best resembles the coronary arteries.

This particular artery is diverted to join a coronary artery below a blockage.

The grafted vessels from the arm or leg

are connected to the coronary arteries beyond the narrowed areas

and then linked to the aorta just above the heart.

This creates a new route for the supply of blood to your heart

and bypasses the narrowing of your arteries.

This procedure alleviates symptoms of chest pain

and reduces the risk of a first or subsequent heart attack

by improving blood supply to your heart.

The bypass graft will usually be effective for many years.

However, without changes to lifestyle,

the new artery may also start to narrow

and a second operation may be needed.

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