The precise medical term for a heart bypass is coronary artery bypass grafting. It has become an extremely common procedure with the average post-surgery life expectancy stretching into decades for most patients.
Coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG) reroutes, or "bypasses," blood around blocked arteries to improve blood and oxygen flow to the heart. It is the most common open-heart procedure in the United States.
A 2008 medical paper published in The European Heart Journal detailed a 30-year follow-up study of 1,041 patients who underwent CABG between 1971 and 1980. The 10, 20, and 30-year survival rates were 77 percent, 40 percent, and 15 percent, respectively. "The overall average life expectancy was 17.6 years," reported the researchers.
Average life expectancy following CABG is dependent upon age, level of heart function and other medical issues. "In general, the by-pass operation will correct the patient's ischemia (blood flow restriction) for 10 to 15 years," according to Dr. Wayne Richenbacher with the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
The mortality rate during and immediately after CABG varies between 2 and 4 percent with a higher factor for patients, like those on kidney dialysis, suffering from other severe illnesses.
What is the life expectancy after a heart bypass? Much of that will depend on an individual's adoption of crucial lifestyle changes like increased exercise, healthy eating and stress management.