What is a heart bypass?
(Lansing State Journal, June 15, 1994)
To perform the operation, a surgeon removes a piece of vein from a patient's leg and attaches it to the heart. One end is sewn to the aorta, and the other end is attached to the coronary artery just past the region that is blocked. This lets oxygenated blood flow directly into the heart, bypassing the blockage.
Other treatments for coronary blockage include the use of medicine and another surgical procedure called coronary angioplasty. Drugs can be used to discourage the build up of material on the walls of blood vessels, and some even help dissolve the material. Angioplasty is a surgical technique that is used to stretch a constricted artery. A tiny balloon is inserted in to the artery and carefully inflated. As it expands, it stretches the walls of the artery, letting more blood flow through it.