Can I Survive Without Heart Bypass?

Being told you have to go under the knife is never, ever pleasant, but when a doctor suggests open-heart surgery,

Can I Survive Without Heart Bypass

It’s particularly jarring. Needless to say, such invasive surgery on one of the most important organs has its risks, and you may not be ready to gamble your life on the operating table. The question is, can you afford not to? 

Well, as you might expect, this is a complex matter. The quick answer is yes… sometimes, but it all depends on your condition specifically. 

While only medical professionals can give you a more conclusive answer, today, I’ll be guiding you through all the possibilities when you’re faced with a potential bypass operation.

Should I Listen To My Doctor And Have Heart Bypass Surgery?

If your doctor suggests heart bypass surgery, there’ll certainly be some form of evidence leading them to their decision, but doctors are only human — They make mistakes from time to time.

This is why getting multiple professional opinions is absolutely crucial when the procedure in question is so serious. I’d recommend getting at least two additional opinions from specialists.

Don’t worry about offending your doctor. Your health comes first, and they’ll completely understand your wanting to get confirmation that surgery is indeed the right move.

If your doctor is mistaken, your chances of living a long healthy life without the surgery are incredibly high assuming you take good care of yourself.

Are Second Opinions Necessary For Potential Heart Bypass Surgery?

Doctors disagree all the time, which means some of them will make the wrong call, while others will make the right call. As such, it can be tricky knowing whether you should follow your doctor’s advice.

However, we can assume that even though some doctors might be a little off the mark, the majority of specialists will hit the nail on the head with their diagnoses and recommendations.

This means that the more specialists we consult when told a bypass might be on the cards, the more reliable the majority decision will be.

When it comes to heart surgery, second and third opinions are especially important, as there can be a number of different causes for pressure and pain localised to the chest, not all requiring such significant intervention.

What’s more, there are nuances to heart conditions that can easily fly under the radar, particularly if there’s only one pair of eyes on the job.

For instance, you may well be suffering from an arterial blockage, but some people develop what are commonly referred to as “collaterals”.

Collaterals are new blood vessels that form around blockages, ensuring enough oxygen reaches the heart.

One doctor might see the blockage and jump to conclusions, while others might notice the subtleties of your condition, and advise against surgery, especially if you’re in your senior years and surgical intervention would hinder rather than improve the time you have left.

Are There Any Alternatives To Heart Bypass Surgery?

Sadly, for some, heart bypass surgery is the best possible plan of action to extend and improve quality of life, but that isn’t always the case.

Studies have shown that establishing a healthy diet, staying active, reducing stress, and maintaining medicinal therapy can halt the onset and in some cases even reverse some of the damage of heart (see also: Heart Failure Reversible?)disease.

Granted, it can be a challenge making these major lifestyle changes, but considering the potential side effects of bypass surgery, making the effort to live healthily is the far superior option.

You’ll still need to request multiple specialist opinions before you take this route, though.

You may also be given the option to have a different procedure known as a coronary angioplasty, involving the insertion of a catheter into a blood vessel in the arm or groyne.

The catheter is guided via X-ray to the blocked artery at which point a balloon in the tip expands, pushing the walls of the artery outwards.

This allows more blood and oxygen to flow through to the heart, but it’s possible for the arterial walls to narrow again post-procedure.

Complications are less likely when undergoing an angioplasty, and as there is no surgery involved, recovery periods are much shorter.

However, if multiple arteries are blocked or the anatomy of your heart is too complex, angioplasty will not be an option.

What Are The Side Effects Of Heart Bypass Surgery?

Can I Survive Without Heart Bypass

There are a number of risks involved with heart bypass surgery. For instance, there is a chance that it could trigger a stroke or heart attack.

Although, it should be mentioned that only about 5% of patients experience any serious complications, and for only 1–2% of patients are these complications fatal.

Bypasses can also have a negative impact on your kidneys or temporarily impact your memory and lucidity. In some instances, you may also require the help of a breathing machine long after the surgery.

Side note — Complications during or after heart bypass surgery are significantly higher for those with the following conditions:

  • Blocked arteries in the legs
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease

How Long Is The Recovery Period After Heart Bypass Surgery?

The road to recovery after heart bypass surgery is a long one. The exact timeline is different for everyone, but generally speaking, you’re looking at about three months before you’re anything like your old self again.

What Are The Risks Of Turning Down Heart Bypass Surgery?

The risk of not having the bypass surgery is of course that your condition could worsen until your heart gives out, but as mentioned earlier, there are ways to improve your chances of survival without surgery.

Final Thoughts

Should you go ahead with heart bypass surgery? I’m in no position to give you your answer, but I hope that you now have a bit more clarity regarding your options.
If you take anything away from today’s post, it’s that you must seek multiple professional opinions before agreeing to bypass surgery, as there may well be a way for you to live a long, happy, healthy life without having to go under the knife at all!

Clare McAfee
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