Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG)

To treat coronary heart disease

CABG is a type of surgery used to treat coronary heart disease. The aim of this surgery is to bypass the narrowed sections of coronary arteries. The heart surgeon does this by grafting a blood vessel between the aorta (the main artery leaving the heart) and a point in the coronary artery beyond the narrowed or blocked area. This allows blood to flow easily beyond the narrowed or blocked sections of the arteries.

Your heart surgeon can carry out a bypass graft surgery for each of the main coronary arteries affected and will take blood vessels from your chest wall, leg or arm.

CABG will help to manage your symptoms but it won’t cure coronary heart disease, so it’s possible that blockages may recur either in the grafts or in other coronary arteries. You might then need to have further surgery, although this is relatively uncommon. You may need to make lifestyle changes to help prevent your condition from getting worse.

What are the benefits?

A successful surgery will reduce your symptoms, such as angina and shortness of breath, as well as improving your quality of life. This type of surgery also reduces the risk of future heart attacks and in those patients with severe coronary artery disease may improve life expectancy.

What are the risks?

All medical procedures carry with them a degree of risk, although risks specific to CABG include:

  • Temporary side effects related to wound healing (soreness, swelling, bruising visible scarring
  • Rare complications such as heart attack, stroke and kidney failure

Are there any alternatives?

Percutaneous coronary intervention such as balloon angioplasty and stenting can be used to treat coronary artery disease, but is generally offered to patients whose condition is less advanced. Medical therapy (drugs) will only control the symptoms and will not stop coronary artery disease from getting worse.

What will happen if CABG is not performed?

Without CABG the symptoms such as angina and shortness of breath will increase in frequency and worsen with time. In addition, the risk of future heart attacks is higher and, in patients with severe coronary artery disease, the probability of long-term survival is likely to be reduced.

Consultants linked to treatment:

Location where service is offered:

Royal Brompton Hospital and Harefield Hospital

Book an appointment

Case Studies

The view from Mount Snowden 3 months after heart bypass

Brian Merritt, 70, came to Harefield with life-threatening heart disease. Read his story of how a passion for hiking helped him to get healthy again.


From Bypass Surgery to Bicycle: The ride of my life!

Read this patient's inspiring story of how he trained to compete in a cycling race just 11 months after a double bypass, under supervision of his consultant.

A dream trip to Paris takes an unexpected turn for US heart patient

Mr and Mrs Ritchie from the US were passing through Heathrow airport to catch a plane for their dream trip to Paris when Mr Ritchie had a heart attack...