Cardiac bypass surgery may be required when the arterial pathways that supply the heart muscle with blood narrow due to plaque buildup. Plaque is a combination of fatty deposits and fibrous tissue that over time coats the interior portion or lumen of the coronary artery. As the disease progresses the coronary artery may constrict enough to cause chest pain called angina or the coronary artery is completely blocked. Coronary artery disease is the leading cause of death around the world. Chest pain or heart attack symptoms may be the first indicator of diseased arteries. Physicians in the eighteenth century thought it was a disease that caused arteries to get hard and stiff. “Hardening of the arteries” was considered a common cause of death. Today, heart bypass surgery is completed routinely and successfully by heart surgeons around the world. Heart bypass surgery entails taking a blood vessel from the leg or chest and surgically attaching it across the blocked coronary artery. The ‘new’ artery routes the blood around the diseased artery and becomes the main source of blood supply to the heart. Medical science began to gain a better understanding of heart disease during the nineteenth century. Researchers made giant strides in cardiac surgery methods in the twentieth century. Modern heart bypass surgery techniques has extended lives and contributed to a higher quality of life for many men and women. Cardiac surgery may be performed when a patient has a blockage in a major coronary artery or if he has more than two or three vessels that have become severely narrowed. Men risk developing coronary artery disease at a younger age than most women. Women appear to have some additional protection until after menopause. After menopause, however, female risk increases until it is equal to males. Heart bypass surgery is performed on both men and women successfully. Medical science has proven that the danger of developing coronary artery disease and the subsequent heart bypass surgery necessary is increased by several common elements. This is why it is important that you are able to do the things you need to do, in order to stay healthy. Such as get regular exercise, and maintain a healthy weight. Avoid saturated fats and transfats. Use salt sparingly in your diet. Don’t smoke. Have your cholesterol levels and your blood pressure checked regularly. Take prescribed medications as directed by your physician. These are extremely crucial to keeping you as healthy as possible and allowing you to feel your best. Many people live a long healthy, productive life after undergoing cardiac bypass surgery because they do follow the doctor’s orders and this can significantly increase not only their quality of life but their length of life in the process.