Heart bypass surgery, which is sometimes referred to as coronary bypass, is a type of surgery that replaces damaged or blocked arteries in the heart using blood vessels harvested from elsewhere in the body, according to Mayo Clinic. Usually the vessel is taken from the stomach, chest, arm or leg and is used to connect other arteries in the heart, effectively bypassing the blocked or diseased artery and improving blood flow to the heart.
Bypass surgery can reduce the risk of death by heart disease, since it can improve the functionality of the heart. It also provides improvement in symptoms such as shortness of breath and chest pain, according to Mayo Clinic.
As Healthline points out, plaque that builds up on the walls of arteries reduces blood flow to the heart muscle. This lack of blood causes the heart muscle to grow tired and eventually fail. Generally the left ventricle, which is the heart's primary pump, is most often affected and its pumping strength is vastly reduced. When the arteries become blocked or narrowed, a fatal heart attack can follow. Even after surgery, lifestyle changes must still be adopted, including the addition of a healthy diet and regular exercise along with medication to treat any other underlying conditions.