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Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery: How to Prepare - Topic Overview

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If you take blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if you should stop taking these medicines 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.

Diabetes

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.

General arrangements

  • Arrange for transportation the day of your surgery, for someone to help you at home during your first week out of the hospital, and for someone to help with chores and errands for 1 to 2 months after your surgery. You may be too physically tired and sore after your surgery to do many things for yourself.
  • Prepay any bills that will be due soon after your surgery. You will probably want to concentrate on recovering, not on everyday affairs.
  • Arrange your personal matters, including a will, living will, and nursing preferences. In rare cases, serious complications of CABG surgery (including death) can happen. So you should plan for this possibility and make sure that you have made your end-of-life wishes clear.

End-of-life issues

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 day before your surgery

  • Remind the person who will drive you to the hospital what time you need to be there. It is important to arrive on time, as several preoperative tests and administrative tasks must be done.
  • Follow the instructions about exactly when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your surgery may be canceled. If your doctor has instructed you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, do so using only a sip of water.
  • Relax, but do not drink alcohol. It may dangerously interfere with medicines you will be given on the day of your surgery.
  • Use disinfecting solution (that your doctor may have given you) to clean your skin. This will minimize the risk of infection near your chest incision.
  • Select comfortable clothes to wear to and from the hospital. After the surgery, your wounds and muscles will still be sensitive, and comfortable clothing is less likely to irritate them.
  • Pack the bag that you will bring to the hospital. In general, hospital staff recommend that you pack lightly.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 05, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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