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What Are the CABG Guidelines?

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  • Written By: T. Broderick
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 26 November 2016
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The CABG guidelines are recommendations set by the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association (ACC/AHA) concerning coronary artery bypass graft surgery. The guidelines, updated every few years, provide guidance on whether or not a patient should undergo bypass or have non-surgical treatment for heart disease. Other summaries of surgical best practices give surgeons a quick review of new techniques that can extend their patients' lives.

CABG is the most commonly performed heart surgery in the United States. Chronic conditions such as obesity and/or type 2 diabetes lead to both clogged arteries and arterial hardening. These complications make it difficult for the heart to pump oxygenated blood to the body; constant strain weakens the heart along with the arteries. During a bypass, arteries taken from various places on the patient's body are connected to both the heart and damaged artery. After the procedure, the heart can use transplanted arteries as a bypass for pumping blood.

The increasing number of CABG surgeries performed over the past few decades prompted physicians of the ACC and AHA to collaborate on a set of guidelines meant to help surgeons make the best choices for their patients. Much of the information in the CABG guidelines is statistical, compilations of data from thousands of surgeries performed since the 1980s. Thus, the CABG guidelines provide physicians with an easy reference for many aspects of bypass surgery.

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The first way in which the CABG guidelines are valuable to surgeons is their data on how certain categories of patients improved as a result of CABG. The two main categories are age at the time of surgery and particular coronary condition that required surgery. Patients and surgeons considering CABG can easily become informed of the long-term result of similar patients who underwent the procedure. This information is vital because certain groups of patients tend to do better with non-surgical treatment options.

Another way that the CABG guidelines improve patient outcome is that they include recommendations for post-operative recovery that can improve patients' quality of life. Some recommendations include a healthier diet or succession of smoking. Though these recommendations are common knowledge, the CABG guidelines provide precise statistical data on how lifestyle changes have improved other patients' lives.

Like with all medical procedures, CABG is evolving with the advent of new medical technology. The CABG guidelines take this evolution into account by providing surgeons with a brief summary of what new techniques and technology are on the horizon. After being introduced to new techniques in the guidelines, surgeons can research them further using separate medical journals.

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