After surgery, most people feel better and may remain symptom-free for as long as 10 to 15 years. Over time, however, it's likely that other arteries or even the new graft used in the bypass will become clogged, requiring another bypass or angioplasty.

Although bypass surgery improves blood supply to the heart, it doesn't cure underlying coronary artery disease. Your results and long-term outcome will depend in part on taking your medication as directed and following healthy lifestyle recommendations, such as these:

  • Stop smoking.
  • Control diabetes.
  • Follow a healthy-eating plan, such as the DASH diet.
  • Reduce cholesterol levels.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Control blood pressure.
  • Manage diabetes.
  • Exercise.

In addition to lifestyle changes you'll need to make after your surgery, your doctor may also recommend a cardiac rehabilitation program. Cardiac rehabilitation — also called cardiac rehab — is a customized program of exercise and education, designed to help you recover after a heart attack, from other forms of heart disease or after surgery to treat heart disease. Cardiac rehabilitation often begins while you're still in the hospital and continues with monitored programs in an outpatient setting until home-based maintenance programs can be safely followed.

Oct. 23, 2012