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How Long Is Open Heart Surgery

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Surgical Heart Valve Replacement Procedure

Open Heart Surgery | Inside the OR

In most cases, heart valve replacement is an open-heart operation. This means the surgeon opens your chest and heart to remove the damaged valve. In some cases, the valve can be replaced through a small incision near the breastbone or under your right chest muscle. This is called minimally invasive surgery.

To help you prepare for the procedure, your doctor may suggest:

  • Talking with different members of the surgical team, such as the anesthesiologist, surgeon, cardiologist, respiratory therapist, and nurses
  • Discussing the details of the operation with family members
  • Visiting the intensive care unit where you may be sent for postoperative recovery

What To Expect Of The Day Of Surgery

You should prepare to stay in the hospital for approximately seven days after your surgery. It is helpful to have someone at the hospital for support for some of this time.

After you check-in, you will go to a preoperative area where you will be instructed to change into a hospital gown.

You will meet with a member of the anesthesia team and surgical team to go over the procedure and sign consent forms. You may be asked to provide a urine specimen.

Intravenous access is started in the pre-operative area. This will be used for anesthesia, antibiotics, and blood products.

How Long Does Open Heart Surgery Last

The duration of the open heart surgery depends on the actual procedure that is being performed. On average, the duration of this kind of surgery is around three or four hours. Besides the actual procedure, at least one hour before and one hour after the surgery will be necessary. The hour before will be used in order to prep the surgical field, administer the anesthesia and other things like that. The hour after the surgery is necessary for post-operative initial care. The duration of the surgery might increase if there are complications with the surgery.

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Care Of Your Incisions

As you heal, your incision will look better and the soreness will go away. Changes in the weather, too much or too little activity and sleeping in one position too long may cause increased soreness. You may also feel numbness or itching or see redness or swelling, which will also stop with time. To care for your incisions, we suggest:

  • Wash gently with mild soap during your daily shower. Dry carefully with a towel. Pat it dry Do not rub the incision.
  • If you have small pieces of white tape over your incision, you must remove them after you have been home for seven days. If the strips come off on their own, you may leave them off.
  • If your incisions are puffy, have areas of redness, are oozing, or begin to open slightly, call your surgeon.
  • Women should wear a bra. A good support bra will reduce the tension placed on the incision. If the bra bothers you, you may put a small piece of gauze under the bra for added comfort.
  • For discomfort or soreness, you may use a heating pad. Apply it four or five times per day on the low setting for about 20 minutes each time. If needed, take pain medication prescribed by your doctor.

Why Is Open Heart Surgery Performed

Heart Surgeon Hoping To Break Slump Soon

Your doctor may recommend open heart surgery to treat a variety of diseases and conditions of the heart. Your doctor may only consider open heart surgery for you if other treatment options that involve less risk of complications have been ineffective. Ask your doctor about all of your treatment options and consider getting a second opinion before deciding on open heart surgery.

Your doctor may recommend open heart surgery for:

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How Long Does It Take My Heart To Heal Asks Carolyn

By Adam Pick on May 31, 2012

I just received a great question from Carolyn about heart healing after valve repair or valve replacement surgery. In her email, Carolyn writes, Adam Ive read a lot on your website about the time needed for the sternum to heal. But, what about the heart? After its stopped, opened, fixed and restarted, how long does it take for the cardiac muscle to heal? Thanks! Carolyn

I wanted to provide Carolyn an expert opinion, so I contacted Dr. Luis Castro, the Medical Director of Sequoia Hospital Heart & Vascular Institute, in Redwood City, California.

During his 28-year career, Doctor Luis Castro has performed over 5,000 cardiac procedures of which 60% included valvular treatment.

During our exchange, Dr. Castro offered several insights about how our bodies heal after heart valve surgery. First, Dr. Castro compared the healing rate of the sternum to the healing rate of our cardiac muscle.

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Beyond 6 Weeks Of Recovery

If you had open heart surgery and the surgeon divided your sternum, it will be about 80% healed after six to eight weeks. By that time, youll generally be strong enough to get back to normal activities such as driving, Dr. Tong says. You can probably also return to work, unless your job is physically strenuous.

Most importantly, this is the time to start a cardiac rehabilitation program.

This is a monitored exercise program designed to increase your hearts endurance. Through cardiac rehabilitation, you can gradually increase your activities, and your doctors will watch your progress closely. Youll also learn more about how you can change your lifestyle and diet to keep your heart healthy.

Working through a cardiac rehabilitation program is the best way to find out when youre strong enough to resume the more strenuous activities you enjoy.

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This Team Is On The Verge Of Creating A Beating Band

He considers it telling that off-pump coronary bypass surgeries in the U.S. dropped from 23 percent in 2002 to 17 percent in 2012.

The vast majority of cardiac surgeons dont want to hurt their patients, and while they want to be innovative, I think when they stop doing this operation, you know that theres got to be a problem, he said.

How Long Is Recovery After Heart Valve Replacement

What to Expect-Open Heart surgery

After an aortic valve replacement, youll usually need to stay in hospital for about a week. The time it takes to fully recover varies depending on factors like your age and overall health. Your breastbone will usually heal in about 6 to 8 weeks, but it may be 2 to 3 months before you feel your normal self again.

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What To Expect While Recovering From Open Heart Surgery

Recovery time after open heart surgery is about 6-8 weeks. During this time you likely will feel tired easily, and you may have some pain and soreness or muscle tightness. Your appetite also likely will be limited, and you may experience swelling in your legs or feet, trouble sleeping, and constipation.

Why Use Sternal Precautions

Open heart surgery usually requires that your cardiac surgeon divide your sternum to gain access to your heart and surrounding structures. After the surgery, your surgeon must repair your sternum by returning the bone to its proper place. Usually, a strong wire is used to hold the bone together while healing occurs.

During your recovery, your healthcare provider may instruct you to follow sternal precautionsa method to protect your sternum after youve had open heart surgery.

Sternal precautions are adjustments that you need to make in your day-to-day life to help prevent the separation of your breastbone as it heals. Separation of your sternum may slow the healing process of the bone, and sternal precautions also help to prevent excessive pulling on the surgical incision. This may help to keep the skin closed to prevent infection in your incision.

Excessive pulling on your breastbone while it is healing after open heart surgery can cause something called dehiscence, or a separation of the bone. This separation can become an opening for infection to enter into your body.

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How Long Does It Take To Recover From Open

Open-heart surgery refers to a surgical procedure, in which cardio surgeons direct the blood flow across a section of any partially blocked or completely blocked artery of the patients heart. In simple words, the surgery involves creation of a new pathway towards the heart. In this way, the open-heart surgery helps in improving the flow of blood towards the heart muscle.

During this surgery, cardio surgeons take a healthy blood vessel from the arm, chest or leg of a patient and connect it to various other arteries in the heart to allow bypass of the blood from the blocked or diseased area.

The main role of open-heart surgery is to bring improvement in chest pain, breathing shortness and similar other problems, which often take place because of the flow of poor blood towards the heart. In addition, the surgery has successfully brought improvement in the cardiac function and thereby, reduced the risk related to die because of heart problems.

Can All Mitral Valves Be Repaired

Open

The simple answer is no, however its important to remember that in the right hands, the majority of valves can be repaired. The things that may prevent a valve from being repaired include, too large a heart, a very degenerated and calcified valve and a rheumatic heart valve. There may be a lot of mitral annular calcification making it difficult. Experts can repair even some of those. Importantly some experts may say that a replacement is preferable because although the valve can be repaired in the short term, the likelihood of recurrence is so high that a replacement makes more sense. A surgeon with a proven track record of repair and appropriate experience should only make that decision.

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When Can Life Resume After Open Heart Surgery

If you had open heart surgery and the surgeon divided your sternum, it will be about 80% healed after six to eight weeks. By that time, youll generally be strong enough to get back to normal activities such as driving, Dr. Tong says. You can probably also return to work, unless your job is physically strenuous.

Drive Before You’re Ready

If your doctor tells you not to get behind the wheel — whether it’s for 2 weeks or 2 months — it’s for a good reason. Your reaction time may be slower and you could get into an accident. Until you’re ready to handle it, get lifts from a friend or family member. Or ask them to do your errands for you.

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Heart Valve Repair Or Replacement

For the heart to work well, blood must flow in only one direction. The heart’s valves make this possible. Healthy valves open and close in a precise way as the heart pumps blood.

Each valve has a set of flaps called leaflets. The leaflets open to allow blood to pass from one heart chamber into another or into the arteries. Then the leaflets close tightly to stop blood from flowing backward.

Heart surgery is used to fix leaflets that don’t open as wide as they should. This can happen if they become thick or stiff or fuse together. As a result, not enough blood flows through the valve.

Heart surgery also is used to fix leaflets that don’t close tightly. This problem can cause blood to leak back into the heart chambers, rather than only moving forward into the arteries as it should.

To fix these problems, surgeons either repair the valve or replace it with a man-made or biological valve. Biological valves are made from pig, cow, or human heart tissue and may have man-made parts as well.

To repair a mitral or pulmonary valve that’s too narrow, a cardiologist will insert a catheter through a large blood vessel and guide it to the heart.

The cardiologist will place the end of the catheter inside the narrow valve. He or she will inflate and deflate a small balloon at the tip of the catheter. This widens the valve, allowing more blood to flow through it. This approach is less invasive than open-heart surgery.

When Should I Call The Doctor

Going Home Recovery after Open Heart Surgery | Heart Care Video Series

You should call your healthcare provider if you experience:

  • Chest pain other than normal discomfort at the incision.
  • Signs of infection at the surgical site, such as oozing and redness.
  • Slurred speech or other signs of stroke.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Open-heart surgery is a life-saving procedure. But it is also a major surgery. Recovery can be long. When possible, you should take steps to improve your health like exercising, losing weight and quitting smoking before surgery. These actions may make recovery easier. Its normal to have concerns before undergoing a heart procedure. Dont hesitate to share questions and concerns with your healthcare provider.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/25/2021.

References

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Related Question For Is It Normal To Be On Oxygen After Open Heart Surgery

How long are you intubated after heart surgery?

The average intubation time after CABG was 14.93±8.63 hours.

How long does breathing tube stay in after open heart surgery?

In most cases, all tubes are removed in 24 to 48 hours. Chest Tubes/Pacemaker Wires: Chest tubes allow blood and fluid that form inside your chest to drain out. The tubes are usually removed the first or second day after surgery.

How long do you stay in ICU after open heart?

A person undergoing open heart surgery will need to stay in the hospital for 7 10 days. This includes at least a day in the intensive care unit immediately after the operation.

How can I improve my breathing after heart surgery?

Chest Breathing is an easy deep breathing exercise which you can do lying down. Inhale deeply through the nose, hold for three seconds then exhale through pursed lips. Repeat ten times. Coughing is also a breathing exercise that helps get rid of mucus from the lungs.

How much should I walk after heart surgery?

Most patients should be capable of walking at least 1 to 1.5 miles per day at one month after surgery. As you recover from heart surgery, walking represents the best form of exercise for you. You should consult with your doctor before taking up more vigorous forms of activity such as swimming or biking.

Does personality change after open heart surgery?

Personality and Emotional Changes

Is it OK to sleep on your side after open heart surgery?

What is the best exercise after heart surgery?

  • Yoga.
  • Surgery To Place Ventricular Assist Devices Or Total Artificial Hearts

    A VAD is a mechanical pump that is used to support heart function and blood flow in people who have weak hearts.

    Your doctor may recommend a VAD if you have heart failure that isn’t responding to treatment or if you’re waiting for a heart transplant. You can use a VAD for a short time or for months or years, depending on your situation.

    A TAH is a device that replaces the two lower chambers of the heart . You may benefit from a TAH if both of your ventricles don’t work well due to end-stage heart failure.

    Placing either device requires open-heart surgery.

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    Tips To Help You Heal

    Keeping the following things in mind will help you heal after heart surgery:

    Listen to your body, especially in the first two months after surgery.

    The vast majority of your healing about 80 percent of it occurs during the first two months after your surgery. During this time, you will attend cardiac rehabilitation and continue to gradually increase your activity level.

    It is very important to work on increasing your activity level before cardiac rehab starts because in most programs this will be six weeks after surgery. Youll want to do as much as possible, but you may find that you tire easily or need to stop and rest during activities that you used to do with ease. Listen to your body. Make sure that youre not pushing yourself too hard and risking injury or complications.

    Follow your doctors recommendations.

    When it comes to resuming specific activities, its important to listen to your doctor. For example, you may need to wait at least six weeks before riding a bicycle or lifting things because your breastbone needs time to heal. Talk to your doctor about when you can start driving again.

    Be patient.

    After the first two months, the rest of your recovery will probably move more slowly. The remaining 20 percent typically takes almost a year. During this time, you should expect to continue to regain strength and endurance.

    Eat right and get active when youre ready.

    What Are The Best Cardiovascular Hospitals In The Us

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    Cleveland Clinic

  • Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai
  • New York-Presbyterian Hospital-Columbia and Cornell
  • Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Hospitals of the University of Pennsylvania-Penn Presbyterian
  • Northwestern Memorial Hospital
  • Brigham and Womens Hospital
  • University of Michigan Hospitals-Michigan Medicine
  • Mount Sinai Hospital
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    From Hospital Discharge To 6 Weeks

    As you begin getting back into your routine, remember to start with small tasks and take plenty of breaks. Dont overdo it.

    After you leave the hospital, unless your surgeon says otherwise, you may return to activities such as:

    • Walking.
    • Light cleaning.
    • Climbing stairs.

    Some things are still off limits, though. Dont lift, pull or push anything that weighs more than 10 pounds. Its too soon to drive, too, but its OK to ride in a car.

    What Happens After Open

    When you wake up after surgery, you will have two or three tubes in your chest. These are to help drain fluid from the area around your heart. You may have intravenous lines in your arm to supply you with fluids, as well as a catheter in your bladder to remove urine.

    You will also be attached to machines that monitor your heart. Nurses will be nearby to help you if something should arise.

    You will usually spend your first night in the intensive care unit . You will then be moved to a regular care room for the next three to seven days.

    Taking care of yourself at home immediately after the surgery is an essential part of your recovery.

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