Controlling Your Risk Factors After Bypass Surgery

Managing coronary artery disease

Woman walking outdoors.After surgery, the blood flow to your heart is better. But new blockages can still form. You need to take steps to prevent this. By taking care of your risk factors for coronary artery disease, commonly called heart disease, you can help keep new blockages from forming. This will lower your chances of needing another bypass surgery.

Controlling risk factors

To manage heart disease, you must control as many risk factors as you can. Work with your healthcare provider to identify your risk factors and to get them under control.

Your healthcare provider will work with you to change lifestyle factors as needed to help stop the progression of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD). It may be the cause of your chest pain (angina). Factors you may need to work on include:


Your healthcare provider will give you information on dietary changes that you may need to make, based on your situation. He or she may recommend that you see a registered dietitian for help with these changes. Changes may include:

  • Cutting fat and cholesterol intake

  • Reducing sodium (salt) intake, especially if you have high blood pressure

  • Choosing fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned vegetables, which can be very high in salt

  • Increasing your intake of fresh vegetables and fruits

  • Eating lean proteins, such as fish, poultry, and legumes (beans and peas) and eating less red meat and processed or canned meats

  • Using low-fat dairy products

  • Using vegetable and nut oils in limited amounts

  • Limiting sweets and processed foods such as chips, cookies, ready-made microwavable meals and baked goods

Physical activity

Your healthcare provider may recommend that you increase your physical activity if you have not been as active as possible. Based on your situation, your provider may recommend that you do moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity for at least 40 minutes each day for at least 3 to 4 days per week. But don't start until your healthcare provider tells you it's okay to do so. He or she may want you to go through cardiac rehab and get a stress test first. A few examples of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity are:

  • Walking at a brisk pace, about 3 to 4 miles per hour

  • Jogging or running

  • Swimming or water aerobics

  • Hiking

  • Dancing

  • Martial arts

  • Tennis

  • Riding a bike or stationary bike

Weight management

If you are overweight or obese, your healthcare provider will work with you to lose weight and lower your body mass index (BMI) to a normal or near-normal level. Making diet changes and exercising more can help.