My mother had quintuple bypass surgery last March at the age of 62. They had a difficult time finding veins to use for the bypasses because she also was found to have PAD. The surgeon said that the veins they had to use were very small and the surgery was very difficult due in part to scar tissue from a previous surgery on her left lung. In a recent checkup she was found to once again have high cholesterol and was put back on a statin, Lipitor 20mg daily. She was told that her arteries may clog again in time and that another surgery would be difficult. Mom is thin and eats a healthy mostly vegetarian diet and walks daily for exercise, has for years, does not smoke, and yet still this happened.
How long on average do bypasses last in someone like this? She is still working, but her doctor suggested she may want to retire and enjoy life while she can.
Also what steps should my siblings and I be taking to avoid this same problem other than the obvious exercise, keep weight down, cholesterol in check, no smoking,etc.? My brother has already had a mild heart attack at the age of 27. I have had difficult to control high blood pressure since my early 30's also have borderline cholesterol. Are there any screenings that we should have? Heart disease runs in our family on both sides. After seeing my mom go through bypass surgery we would like to avoid it if possible.
The first part of your question,"how long do bypasses last?", can be answered in several ways. In regards to the actual grafts themselves, we have some data: In one series of 3220 patients undergoing total arterial coronary revascularization, angiographic graft patency at five years was 97 and 89 percent for the left and right internal mammary artery. Ten or more years after surgery, patency for a left internal mammary artery to anterior descending coronary artery graft is still approximately 90 percent, in contrast to vein grafts which tend to deteriorate after the fifth to seventh postoperative years. By ten years, approximately 50% of the vein grafts may be occluded.
A second way to answer your question would be to say that from the BARI trial (the largest bypass trial), 95% of CABG patients were alive at 5 years, and 92% had not required any further revascularization.
What you and your family need to do is have close medical follow-up. Furthermore, make sure you see health care professionals that can provide expert medical opinions. Exercise and maintaining an active lifestyle are both associated with a much lower mortality in the general population -- these two things are the most underused tools for reducing our risk of death. Many adults will need to clear an exercise regimen with their doctor before starting.
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