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Getting ready - Coronary artery bypass graft

It's a good idea to be well prepared before going into hospital to have a coronary artery bypass graft (CABG).

Get informed

Find out as much as you can about what your operation involves. Your hospital may provide written information.

Arrange help

Ask a friend or relative to help you at home for a week or 2 after coming home from hospital.

Sort out transport

Arrange for a friend, relative or a taxi to take you to and from the hospital.

Stock up

Stock up on food that's easy to prepare, such as frozen ready meals, and staples like rice and pasta. You could prepare your own dishes to freeze and reheat during your recovery.

Clean up

Before going into hospital, have a long bath or shower, cut your nails and wash your hair. Wear freshly washed clothes to help prevent taking unwanted bacteria into hospital. This can increase your risk of developing complications.

Pre-admission assessment

Before surgery, you'll attend a pre-admission clinic. You'll be seen by a member of the team who will be looking after you in hospital.

At this clinic, you'll have a physical examination. You'll be asked for details of your medical history.

You may have some tests such as a chest x-ray, blood tests and an electrocardiogram (ECG). During an ECG, small electrodes are put on your arms, legs and chest. An ECG records the electrical signals produced by your heart.

You'll be told more about the operation during your visit to the pre-admission clinic. Your surgeon will discuss every aspect of the procedure with you.

The procedure is carried out using a general anaesthetic. You must not eat or drink for at least 6 hours before the operation. A general anaesthetic means you'll be asleep during the operation.

At the pre-admission clinic the care team will ask you about:

  • any tablets or other types of medicines you're taking - bring details or the packaging of anything you're taking
  • previous anaesthetics you had and if you had any problems with them
  • any allergies you have

You'll be advised to stop smoking if you smoke. This is because smoking increases your chances of developing a serious chest infection. Smoking slows down the time your wounds will take to heal. Smoking can also increase your risk of getting blood clots.

Get help to give up smoking

What should I take into hospital?

When getting ready for your stay in hospital, you might want to pack:

  • a change of nightclothes and a dressing gown
  • some comfortable shoes or slippers
  • something comfortable and easy to wear during the day
  • toiletries
  • medicines that you take
  • books, magazines and other things to help pass the time during your recovery
  • healthy snacks for between meals
  • your address book and important phone numbers

Different hospitals have different rules about personal electronic equipment. Check with your hospital about their policy on the use of mobile phones and laptops. You may also need to bring a phone charger with you.

Avoid taking any unnecessary valuables into hospital.

Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE

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This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.

Page last reviewed: 10 August 2021
Next review due: 10 August 2024