What is the recovery from CABG surgery like?

As part of the recovery from coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG) and to reduce the risk of developing further blockages, the person should strive to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This includes regular exercise, eating healthy foods, weight loss, reducing stress, and quitting smoking.

CABG surgery is a major operation, and the person should expect to be in the hospital for about a week after surgery. The hospital stay will likely include a day or two in the intensive care unit (ICU) where hospital staff can monitor blood pressure, breathing, and other vital signs. The person also will have a breathing tube for a few hours or possibly overnight, so communication will be difficult. The breathing tube will be removed as soon as the person is awake and able to breathe on his or her own.

If in-hospital recovery goes as expected, discharge should be within a week. This is just the start of recovery though. Even after going home, people likely will find it difficult to perform everyday tasks or even walk a short distance. The full recovery period is about 12 to 15 weeks. In most cases, people can return to work, begin exercising, and resume sexual activity after 6 weeks, but the doctor will discuss a personalized recovery plan following surgery.

This content originally appeared online in "The Patient Guide to Heart, Lung, and Esophageal Surgery" from the Society of Thoracic Surgery.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.