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What is Quadruple Bypass Surgery?

By K T Solis
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Quadruple bypass surgery is an operation performed when several arteries in the human body are blocked. Arteries are responsible for transporting blood from the heart to various parts of the body. When the arteries become blocked, a patient is at a higher risk of suffering a heart attack. In order to prevent this from occurring, a surgeon must create new channels to bypass the blockage. A working blood vessel from the chest or leg, is transplanted to bypass the blocked artery and allow the blood to flow freely.

Arteries sometimes become blocked because of the buildup of a waxy material called plaque, which narrows the arteries. When four arteries are blocked, the patient must undergo quadruple bypass surgery.

To perform the surgery, the surgeon makes an incision in the chest, then cuts through the breastbone and opens the ribs. Next, a working blood vessel is taken from another area of the body. One end of the blood vessel, or graft, is then attached to the aorta and the other end is attached to the coronary artery that rests beneath the blockage. As the procedure is performed, a heart-lung bypass machine is connected to the patient to ensure the patient's blood continues to flow; this is needed because the surgeon stops the patient's heart as the quadruple bypass is performed.

A typical quadruple bypass surgery lasts between one and three hours. When the procedure is complete, the surgeon uses an electrical shock to restart the heart and then disconnects the patient from the heart-lung bypass machine. Wires are then used to monitor the patient's heart rate, and a tube is connected to the chest to drain fluids.

During the first 24 hours following the surgery, medical professionals closely monitor the patient. Post-surgery risks include internal bleeding, stroke, infection, and pneumonia. There is also the fear that the heart may stop working since it has recently undergone the stress of surgery.

Many bypass surgery patients are able to leave the hospital after five days. Several weeks after the surgery, patients can begin cardiac rehabilitation. During this time, patients begin workouts under the supervision of medical personnel, and special exercises help them recover their strength and endurance.

People who have undergone bypass surgery are instructed to improve their diet and quit smoking, if they are smokers. Healthcare professionals may also prescribe cholesterol-lowering medication to help prevent further heart problems. A month after the surgery, some patients may be able to return to work, at least on a part-time basis.

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Discussion Comments
By anon1000146 — On Jun 12, 2018

I recently underwent a quadruple bypass. I never would have thought I could have a heart attack . I quit smoking the day he told me I had to I am trying to eat better and lower my a1c. I hope to never feel that pain again or put my husband through anything like that again.

By honeybees — On Aug 11, 2012

I have often wondered if heart surgeons get frustrated by the number of coronary bypass surgeries they do that could be prevented?

If someone knows they have heart disease and continue to smoke, eat a lot of junk and don't exercise, it seems like they could do a lot to avoid having a surgery like this in the first place.

By myharley — On Aug 10, 2012

@John57-- There are many surgeries that carry a lot of risk, and having a quadruple heart bypass surgery is certainly one of them.

Heart disease runs in my family and I have had two close family members who have had this surgery. Even though this type of surgery is done every day, it is different when someone you love is going through it.

The recovery time can seem long too. For several weeks there is not much they can do, and it is a slow process to get back to doing all of your normal activities.

Since I have this history in my family, I try to do everything I can to prevent something like this happening to me.

By John57 — On Aug 10, 2012

When I read about how a coronary bypass surgery is performed, I am amazed at how successful they are. I have not had anyone in my family have an operation like this, and would be very nervous if they did.

It seems like there are so many things that could go wrong with this kind of surgery, and I would want to make sure I had one of the best cardiac surgeons there was.

By bagley79 — On Aug 09, 2012

When my dad had a heart attack, he had no previous symptoms or history of heart problems. We don't have a history of heart disease in our family, and he was fit and healthy.

When he was at the hospital, they discovered that most of his arteries were blocked and said he needed to have quadruple bypass heart surgery. This came as quite a shock to all of us.

We are very thankful the heart attack did not take his life and that he was able to come through the surgery successfully. He was already eating healthy and exercising, but now he is even more disciplined than ever.

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