Surgery for Coronary Artery Disease

Cardiac surgery programs at Baptist Health Louisville and Floyd have been awarded a 3 Star recognition for CABG by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) since 2017 with the Highest composite score in the States of Kentucky and Indiana (<20% of programs in the country and only one in the Louisville metropolitan area). Our physicians are recognized above average recognition for CABG by the STS National Database ranking and have been awarded best surgeons for CABG in the area by Louisville Magazine since 2013. 


The coronary arteries provide blood flow to the heart muscle to be able to pump blood to the whole body and organs. The three main arteries are embedded in the heart muscle of fatty surface of the heart and branch off into numerous smaller blood vessels. When an artery develops a blockage or obstructive plaque as in the picture below, the decreased blood flow in the different territories (ischemia) produces chest pain and eventually a partial or complete heart attack depending on the severity of the blockage.

Symptoms of coronary blockage and flow insufficiency include chest pressure or pain, left arm discomfort, shortness of breath or indigestion. For women, symptoms can be more subtle, such as bloating, upper abdominal pain, fatigue or indigestions. In diabetics, pain may not be present but shortness of breath is usually more common.

When blockages are distinct and isolated, stents (PCI) are usually the first line therapy. Although easier to place and with low risk, the risk of recurrent heart attacks and re-intervention is very common. They are placed using guidelines of treatment and require the use of antiplatelet blood thinners to prevent early closure.

Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) is the best choice in patients with more extensive disease, complex anatomy that precludes stenting, 3 vessel coronary involvement and diabetics. Learn more about CABG.