Cardiac Bypass for the Morbidly Obese

Cardiac bypass is a surgical procedure performed to treat narrowed arteries that supply blood to the heart. This procedure bypasses the blocked artery and increases blood flow to the heart. The coronary arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscles. Coronary artery disease (CAD) occurs when cholesterol plaque builds up on the inner walls of the coronary arteries. This condition is known as atherosclerosis. The arteries become hard and narrow, decreasing the blood flow to the heart.

In this procedure, a healthy blood vessel (graft) is taken from a part of your body such as the leg (long saphenous vein), arm (radial artery), or chest (internal thoracic artery). Your surgeon will inject a medicine or provide electric shocks to stop the heart from beating. While your heart is stopped, the blood will be redirected to a heart-lung machine, which functions similar to your heart and lungs, supplying oxygen to the blood and keeping the circulation moving.

If an artery graft is taken from a leg or arm, one end of the graft is attached to the aorta and the other end is attached to the coronary artery beyond the blockage with sutures. Now the blood bypasses the blocked and narrowed area, and reaches the heart freely.

If the internal thoracic artery is used, your surgeon will redirect the thoracic artery by detaching one end of it and re-attaching it below the blocked part of the coronary artery.

The graft bypasses the narrowed or blocked portion of the artery to create a new path for the circulation of oxygen-rich blood to the heart. The goal of the surgery is to relieve symptoms of angina and help the patient resume a normal lifestyle.

Obesity is considered as a major risk factor for adverse outcomes of cardiac surgery. Morbid obesity refers to individuals with a Body Mass Index (BMI) score of 40 or above. Obese people are more prone to develop serious health conditions such as heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoarthritis, back pain, depression, and some types of cancer.

Studies have shown that the mortality rate between morbidly obese patients and non-morbidly obese patients undergoing cardiac bypass surgery is similar. However, morbidly obese patients had longer hospital and intensive care unit stays, hypoxia, abnormal cardiac rhythm, and a higher rate of wound infection or dehiscence when compared to the non-morbidly obese patients.

Service Providers

Arlington Surgery

Baylor Heart Hospital