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What precautions are necessary after bypass surgery?

Q: My 39 years old brother has to undergo bypass surgery. The doctors found that there are a few blockages in the main artery and he needs to undergo the surgery. What precautions should be taken after surgery? Is there any risk associated with surgery?

A:Once your brother’s surgery is over, his operating surgeon and physician will give the necessary instructions. However, in general terms, it is important to mobilise and start walking at the earliest to prevent complications like clot formation in the legs (deep vein thrombosis) and to maintain the general circulation in the body. Also deep breathing and coughing are important to maintain chest expansion and to prevent any lung complications. Long-term precautions in terms of avoidance of fatty food and simple sugars, control of risk factors like diabetes and hypertension if applicable, regular walking, maintenance of weight, avoidance of stress by doing transcendental meditation, yoga and such other relaxing techniques as may suit you are also extremely important. Needless to say, smoke either passive or active is disastrous and should be stringently avoided.

Certainly any surgical intervention would have a definitive risk attached to it and the risk can be quantified by the operating surgeon depending on clinical condition of the heart, of the blood vessels and associated co-morbidities. In generic terms, bypass surgery carries a risk of 1-2% of life and 3-5 % of complications, which may not be life threatening, but which may retard the recovery process and prolong hospitalisation.

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