More than 90 percent of people who have heart bypass surgery are still alive five years after the surgery, reports WebMD. Managing blood pressure and cholesterol, along with making lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, eating healthy foods and exercising regularly often significantly impact life expectancy after bypass surgery.
Heart bypass surgery is performed to bypass damaged areas of the coronary arteries using healthy artery or vein grafts in order to allow increased blood flow to the heart, explains WebMD. It is usually an open-heart procedure performed while the patient is under general anesthesia. During this surgery the surgeon cuts into the body to expose the heart and then grafts a healthy blood vessel to the blocked artery. The healthy blood vessel is usually taken from the patient's leg. As many as four separate bypass grafts are sometimes necessary to restore adequate circulation to the heart.
Bypass surgery is usually performed when patients have an unusually narrow left main heart artery or when all three heart arteries have blockages or very little circulation, states WebMD. Doctors often recommend bypass surgery when it seems more advantageous than other treatments, such as angioplasty with stents, or when a patient already requires surgery to repair or replace a heart valve.