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Heart Attack after Bypass Surgery

Learn about the risk of heart attack after bypass surgery. Explore preventive measures, lifestyle changes, and post-surgery care to safeguard heart health effectively.

  • Heart

By Mitali Pawar

28th Dec '22

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A CABG surgery is known as a bypass surgery in which the doctors prefer to treat the blockages in arteries. They are the blood vessels that provide oxygen and nourishment to the heart of the patient. 

Bypass surgery is a very safe surgical approach and also very effective. However, it is accompanied by certain risk factors, heart attack being one of them. A heart attack can occur if one of the grafts becomes blocked.

The American Heart Association states that tentatively around 10 to 20% of people are likely to experience a heart attack who have Coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG). It’s more likely to happen within the first year after the surgery.

The risk of people suffering from a heart attack after CABG is not more than 1 to 2% every year. That it is about 10 to 20% in ten years. The risk is highest during the first year after the surgery is done. Comparatively, the risk is less in the later years after the bypass surgery. 

According to research from some studies, we can conclude that the risk of a heart attack after bypass surgery is around 3 to 5%.

Chances of having a heart attack after Bypass Surgery

Heart attacks can recur after bypass surgery. That’s because, after heart surgery or a CABG surgery, the heart and the arteries both become weak and thus need more care and attention. It is required mainly in the first month after the operation. 

Some patients can also suffer from a heart attack soon after having the bypass surgery.

The factors affecting heart attacks occurring again after bypass surgery usually depend on:

  • The seriousness of blockages
  • Patient’s health
  • Surgeon’s skills and experience

Also, the complications can be more in people of certain age groups.

  • Older adults
  • People who have diseases or medical conditions
  • Those who already had heart attacks

There are tests like the Ecg test, Angiography, echocardiogram, Cardiac CT Scan, Stress Test, etc. which can determine the chances of having a heart attack after bypass surgery.

Chief Executive Officer & Chief Cardiac Surgeon of National Heart Institute,

New Delhi, Dr. OP. Yadava, said that, 

"Bypass surgery does not reduce the total incidence of a heart attack. It only reduces the incidences of fatal heart attacks, but heart attacks are not reduced.".

As per his observation, none of the side branches, the microcirculation, or the 10–14 times each coronary artery branch are bypassed before it becomes a capillary. The main arteries and the microcirculation can both become saturated with cholesterol. Some places remain ischemic even after bypass surgery. If the graft fails, 3% of patients may experience a heart attack within a year.

Are you or your loved one experiencing some unknown health issues after surgery?

You certainly need to know about the risks and symptoms of the subject right here.

What is the risk of second heart attack after bypass surgery?

Usually there isn’t a great risk of having a heart attack after the heart surgery, but still it is possible in case of some individuals. 

There are very fewer chances of getting a heart attack after bypass surgery especially for those who have already undergone bypass surgery compared to those who have not.

As per the American Heart Association, the risk of recurrence is in the first month after the surgery is less than 2%.

The risk is less after a period of one month of heart bypass surgery, and it decreases with time. Whereas within the first five years after surgery the percentage of risk is 5 to 10%.

The risk of heart attack also increases with age and other health related issues. There are a few other factors that also contribute to this risk.

They are as follows:

Health Issues


Unhealthy LifestyleIt’s necessary to make lifestyle changes after bypass surgery to lower the risk of having a second heart attack. It includes some restrictions like refraining from smoking and following a regular exercise routine. One must also follow a healthy diet.
Other Health ConditionsOther underlying health problems like high BP or diabetes can be factors of risk for people who underwent bypass surgery.
Skipping MedicationsIt’s mandatory to take medicines and follow the doctor's suggestions.
Undergoing stress & anxietyHigh stress levels and anxiety can raise the risk of heart attack again. It’s important to manage stress and find healthy ways to confront anxiety.

Symptoms of a heart attack after bypass surgery

Symptoms of heart attack after bypass surgery are similar to a normal heart attack. These may include:

  • Pain or discomfort in chest: It feels like a tightness, pressure, or squeezing pain in the middle of the chest.
  • Difficulty breathing: Breathing issues or shortness of breath happens even while resting.
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Light-headedness or dizziness
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Upper body pain or discomfort: One can feel discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach.

If you experience any of these symptoms after bypass surgery, it is crucial to seek medical attention immediately. 

Time is of the essence when treating a heart attack, and prompt treatment can help minimize damage to the heart muscle.

It is important to note that not all heart attacks have the same symptoms, and some people may experience only mild or no symptoms. 

If you are facing any of these symptoms, it's crucial to consult the best cardiologist.

If you find any of these symptoms then you need immediately see a doctor to get help. Getting these symptoms treated in time is extremely crucial. It can help lessen the damage to the heart.

Heart attacks do not always have the same symptoms. Sometimes people can experience just mild symptoms, whereas sometimes people might not have any symptoms at all.

Is there a risk of death due to a heart attack after bypass surgery?

There are several reasons for the death due to heart attack after bypass surgery. And the factors as discussed earlier in this article.

As per the research, studies stated that the risk of death due to heart attack after bypass surgery is about 2.5%. The risk of death increases with the growing age of people, which is about 7% for patients above 70 years of age. Apart from this, a person’s history of heart failure or diabetes or having a critical operation in the past. 

If a person doesn’t receive immediate and proper medical treatment in such a case there’s a higher concern of getting a heart attack. The American Heart Association says that the risk of death is lesser for people who act quickly within an hour of seeing the symptoms rather than those who receive the treatment later. 

The age factor can also vary. Most older adults have a higher risk of heart attack and death after bypass because of their health and immunity problems. However with good treatment and proper medical care, patients of any age can have a good chance of survival. 

Hence if you observe any kind of symptoms related to heart attack, it’s important to get immediate medical attention from the doctors to reduce any risks of death and damage to the heart.

Don’t forget that there are always ways to overcome any difficult situation! Read further how you can prevent the risks.

What can be done to prevent heart attack after bypass surgery?

To prevent heart attack after bypass surgery there are various treatment options available. Treatments like medications to dissolve the blood clot blocking the artery, and procedures restoring blood flow to the heart and other risk factors for heart attack.

Regular monitoring can detect high blood pressure or hypertension in its early stages. It allows for prompt treatment and prevents long-term complications.  You can use clinically validated blood pressure monitors for accurate readings even at home to keep track of your blood pressure.

Statins, beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), and aspirin are some of them. There are many steps that patients need to take care of to help reduce their risk of heart attack after bypass surgery. 

By following these steps and working closely with your doctor, you can help reduce your risk of having a heart attack after bypass surgery.

According to Veronica, A Heart Dietitian, following the Mediterranean dietary pattern can reduce one's chances of having a second heart attack or stroke. She says,

“In fact, the LYON study was an excellent randomized control trial, that showed eating the Mediterranean way reduced the chance of a secondary cardiac event by 30-70% which is pretty significant. Thus, The Mediterranean diet not only prevents cardiovascular disease, but it can prevent another cardiac event if one has already occurred.”

The Mediterranean diet involves following a similar eating pattern to those living in the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea (hence the name!), such as Italy, Greece, and France. The diet consists of plant-based foods like vegetables, fruits whole grains, beans and legumes, nuts, and olive oil. There is moderate inclusion of fish, dairy, eggs, and alcohol, particularly red wine consumed with dinners. While meat, especially red meat, and other sweets are consumed very rarely.

You definitely need to get in touch with the best specialists to get treated.

Risk of heart attack after bypass surgery in pediatrics

A heart attack after bypass surgery in pediatrics is a rare but serious complication. It can occur as a result of a clot in the bypass graft or a blockage in the native coronary artery. Symptoms in children can be similar to those in adults, but may also vary depending on the child's age.

Chest pain or discomfort: This may feel like a pressure or squeezing sensation in the chest.

Shortness of breath: This may occur before or along with chest pain.

Fatigue or weakness: The child may feel tired or weak, especially with physical activity.

Rapid or irregular heartbeat: The child's heart rate may be faster or slower than normal.

Nausea or vomiting: The child may feel sick to their stomach or vomit.

Sweating or clammy skin: The child may sweat more than usual or have cold, clammy skin.

Children need to be treated by administering blood thinners and/or performing a procedure to remove the blockage. It is important for the child to be closely monitored and for any signs of complications to be addressed promptly.

Here's a list of the best pediatric cardiologists in India you can find if you notice any kind of symptoms or have any doubts about your child's health.

Even if you don’t want to go for surgery as an option, you can choose natural ways to recover. Consult with your doctor before making any decisions.

How can exercise reduce the risk of heart attack after bypass surgery?

Following an exercise routine after heart surgery reduces the risk of heart attack. It improves cardiovascular health and reduces other factors of heart disease. Like high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes.

Talk to your doctor before beginning any physical activities. They will recommend what type of exercise would be safe for you and with what intensity. It’s supposed to be different for all based on your individual needs and fitness levels.

Some general recommendations for exercise after heart attack surgery include:

Start slowly

Begin with easy activities and slowly increase the intensity and duration of your workouts over time.
Choose activities you enjoyFocus more on activities you enjoy and are more likely to stick with over time. Activities like walking, swimming, cycling, or other low-impact activities can actually help.
Warm up and cool downTry workouts with a few minutes of simple activities at the start and end of your exercise routine. It helps your body adjust to the change in intensity.
Listen to your bodyPay attention to your body. Stop exercising if you feel any problems like chest pain, shortness of breath, or dizziness, etc. 
Stay hydratedDrink plenty of water to help prevent dehydration.
Take breaksTake enough breaks and rest as needed to allow your body time to recover.


Please note:  Consult with the experts before starting any new exercise program, especially after bypass surgery. Your doctors can help you determine the best exercises for your needs particularly, and provide guidance on proper technique and intensity. This will help prevent further complications and ensure a smooth recovery. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How is a heart attack treated?

What should I do if I think I'm having a heart attack after bypass surgery?

What is the mortality rate for a heart attack after bypass surgery?

What is the recovery time after a heart attack after bypass surgery?

Can lifestyle changes reduce the risk of a heart attack after bypass surgery?

What is the long-term outlook after a heart attack after bypass surgery?

How long after bypass surgery can a heart attack occur?

Can a heart attack after bypass surgery cause permanent damage to the heart?

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