Coronary arterybypass graft

Using this guide What's covered

Here you’ll find the answers to many of your questions about coronary artery bypass graft surgery and how it can treat heart problems. Learn how it works, what it may cost, what your recovery may be like, and more.

To see how the surgery is done, view our animation below. For personal insights, see our patient experience videos in which HCF members talk frankly about their preparation, surgery and recovery.

Cost indicator

Discover the typical-out-of-pocket costs HCF members can expect to pay for coronary artery bypass graft surgery and learn how your choice of doctor and hospital affect that cost. 


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Learn about coronary artery bypass grafts

This short animation shows how blood flow to the heart is restored by grafting a healthy artery or vein onto a blocked artery.

The basics

What is a coronary artery bypass graft?

A healthy artery or vein (taken from your arm, leg, or the inside of your chest) is grafted on to the coronary artery to improve blood flow to your heart. Over 17,000 of these surgeries are performed in Australia every year.

Coronary artery bypass grafts are used to treat coronary artery disease, which occurs when a build-up of plaque (consisting of fatty deposits, cholesterol and calcium) sticks to the walls of the arteries, causing narrowing and blockages. This reduces the blood flow to the heart, which may cause clots that can result in a heart attack.

The main risk factors for coronary artery disease are:

  • Eating a lot of saturated fat
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Inactivity
  • Unstable diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • A family history of heart disease

Signs you may need coronary artery bypass graft surgery

You may need the surgery if your coronary arteries are narrowed or blocked and you have symptoms like:

  • Chest pain (angina)
  • Shortness of breath

The details

Considering surgery

How coronary artery bypass graft surgery works

Coronary artery disease and how coronary artery bypass graft surgery is used to treat it.
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Alternatives to surgery

Surgical and non-surgical methods of treating coronary artery disease.
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Results vs risks of surgery

The benefits and potential complications of coronary artery
bypass graft surgery.
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Choosing a specialist

How to find a surgeon who specialises in your procedure.
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Questions for your surgeon and anaesthetist

What you should be asking before going ahead with surgery.
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Preparing for surgery

Pre-operative tests and imaging. 
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Your anaesthetic options

The type of anaesthetic and post-op pain relief you may be offered.
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Your surgery

Going to hospital

What to expect on the day of the procedure.
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Your procedure

What happens in the operating theatre.
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Recovery and aftercare

After surgery

Your hospital stay.
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Back at home

Rehab, aftercare and lifestyle modifications.
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Patient experiences

HCF members who’ve had coronary artery bypass graft surgery talk about preparation, their hospital stay and recovery.
View videos

Coping after a heart attack

Here, people who've had a heart attack talk about the impact it had on their lives and how they've since changed their habits, and their outlook on life.  

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Important information

Information is provided by HCF in good faith for the convenience of members. It is not an endorsement or recommendation of any form of treatment nor is it a substitute for medical advice, and you should rely on the advice of your treating doctors in relation to all matters concerning your health. Every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, however HCF takes no responsibility for any injury, loss, damage or other consequences of the use of this information.