Regis Philbin to Undergo Heart Bypass

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Updated: 6/19 3:30 am

March 13, 2007 -- Regis Philbin, co-host of the TV talk show Live With Regis and Kelly, says he will undergo heart bypass surgery this week.

Philbin, 75, made the announcement yesterday on the show. He said he had consulted doctors after feeling chest pain and shortness of breath.

Heart bypass surgery is done when coronary arteries -- which supply blood to the heart muscle -- are dangerously blocked or narrowed. Blocked coronary arteries make heart attacks more likely.

In heart bypass surgery, doctors take a piece of vein from the patient's leg or a piece of an artery from the patient's chest or wrist and attach it to the blocked coronary artery above and below the blockage, creating an alternate route for blood to bypass the blockage.

Heart bypass surgery is also called coronary artery bypass graft surgery, or CABG (pronounced "cabbage").

When Philbin announced his upcoming bypass surgery on TV, he said he had hoped to get angioplasty instead of bypass surgery, but he said doctors recommended bypass surgery.

In angioplasty, doctors thread a thin tube with a tiny balloon tip through the arteries to the blockage and inflate the balloon to stretch the blocked coronary artery and improve blood flow. Doctors may also insert a wire mesh tube called a stent to hold the blocked coronary artery open.

Bypass surgery is sometimes needed instead of angioplasty, depending on the location and severity of the coronary artery blockage.

A spokeswoman for Live with Regis and Kelly reportedly said on Monday that Philbin will be out for at least five weeks after the bypass surgery to recover from the operation.

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