There are many things that you can and must do in the days and weeks before your coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery. Your surgeon will give you specific instructions on how to prepare for your CABG surgery.
CABG surgery is an invasive procedure that has a fairly long recovery time, so it is important that you prepare carefully for your surgery as well as for the days and weeks following your surgery. Try to make your life simpler during the recovery period by doing things such as paying bills ahead of time and arranging for someone to assist you in the days following your surgery. It is also important to plan for any complications that could arise. A lot of the preparation that you do before your surgery will help you afterward, while you are recovering.
In the 2 or 3 weeks prior to surgery, attend any scheduled appointments with your surgeon. You will need to have several tests done before your surgery. Most of these tests are done so that your doctors can evaluate and compare your health before and after CABG surgery. The tests can also help your doctors anticipate any special needs. To be ready by the day of your surgery, the tests need to be done days or weeks before.
You may need to stop taking certain medicines a week or more before surgery, so talk to your doctor as soon as you can.
Tell your doctors all the medicines, vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies you take. Some of these can increase the risk of bleeding or interact with anesthesia. Your doctor will tell you which medicines to take or stop before your surgery.
If you take aspirin or some other blood thinner, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if you should stop taking this medicine before your surgery. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
On the day of your CABG operation, you should have only a sip of water with any medicine so that you keep your stomach empty.
If you have diabetes, your doctors may need to adjust your medicines to prepare for your CABG surgery. Since CABG surgery requires you to stop eating several hours before your procedure, your blood glucose level may drop so low that your regular medicines (which lower your glucose level) may not be needed. Talk to your doctors about the type and severity of your diabetes, as well as which medicines you are taking.
You should discuss complications of CABG surgery a few weeks beforehand with both your surgeon and your family. In particular, you may wish to clarify your desires about matters such as life support (such as a breathing tube or medicines to keep you alive) and resuscitation measures (such as chest compressions and electric shock) in case of an emergency.
Also, you may want to consider becoming an organ and tissue donor. If you are an organ and tissue donor, your liver, lungs, kidneys, and other organs can be donated to another person who needs them in case you die during your surgery. Although only a very small percentage of all CABG surgeries done result in death, it is important to prepare in case this happens.
(The hospital will usually provide you with shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion, toothbrush, toothpaste, and shaving equipment.)
Plan to arrive several hours before your CABG surgery begins. Several more tests and administrative tasks must be done before you are ready for surgery. To learn more, see the topic Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery: When You Arrive at the Hospital.
When you prepare for your CABG surgery, you can take an active role. By asking questions and educating yourself, you can take control of your experience. In your weeks of recovery after your surgery, you will be glad that you did.
Other Works Consulted
- Gray RJ, Sethna DH (2012). Medical management of the patient undergoing cardiac surgery. In RO Bonow et al., eds., Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine, 9th ed., vol. 2, pp. 1793–1810. Philadelphia: Saunders.
- Hillis LD, et al. 2011 ACCF/AHA Guideline for coronary artery bypass graft surgery: A report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. Circulation, 124(23): e652–e735.
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