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Open-heart Surgery Recovery Time Elderly Patients

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Open Heart Surgery Recovery Complications

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

Failure-to-rescue is the term used for the death of a patient due to complications following major surgery. Open-heart surgery is considered major surgery and has several complications. The surgery should be accomplished such that the risk of post-operative complications is kept at a minimum, however, the post-operative care also plays an important role in keeping at bay, the operative complexities. Open heart surgery is done to treat various abnormalities in the internal structure of the heart such as valves, heart muscle, aorta or vessels. Some conditions such as gastrointestinal complications and insomnia fade as the patient recover. Below are the various complications associated with open heart surgery:

Side Effects Of Having A Pacemaker

Complications from pacemaker surgery are uncommon, but you should be on the lookout for any issues. According to the Mayo Clinic, possible complications include:

  • Allergic reaction to the anesthesia or dye used in the procedure
  • Bleeding, bruising, or swelling at the generator site
  • Damage to nerves or blood vessels near the pacemaker
  • Infection at the surgery site

After pacemaker surgery, patients should call their doctor if they experience any of the following issues:

  • Fever lasting longer than 2-3 days
  • Pain, redness, or swelling at the site of the pacemaker
  • Prolonged hiccups
  • Prolonged weakness
  • Swollen arm on the side of the surgery

Patients should also call their cardiologist if their heart rate drops below the lowest setting on their pacemaker, or if they have symptoms of an abnormal heart rhythm.

Hormonal Changes Can Occur After Heart Surgery

For women, your period can be affected by the surgery. It can temporally or even in cases permanently changed. Your periods can become irregular, heavy, lighter, or more painful. Whenever Im in the hospital for some reason my body just automatically decides its going to have my period even though its not that time.

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Preparing For Surgery When Possible

The older adult, more than any other age group, benefits greatly from taking the time to fine-tune their health prior to surgery. This means improving the patients health in small and large ways prior to surgery.

How the patient’s health is fine-tuned varies between individuals. It may mean improving blood glucose levels in the diabetic patient, smoking cessation for the pipe smoker, and improving iron levels in the anemic patient. This effort to improve health, even in small ways, pays off big in the elderly because they tolerate complications after surgery poorly. Preventing problems means less physical stress on the body during and after surgery.

What Is Coronary Stenting

Repairing Heart Valves without Opening Chests

Coronary stenting is usually performed during a coronary angioplasty. Both procedures are done to treat CAD, the most common form of heart disease.

CAD is a narrowing of the major blood vessels that transport blood to the heart muscle. When CAD interrupts blood flow, treatments are often necessary to restore it, including lifestyle changes, medicines, and surgery.

Inserting coronary stents during a coronary angioplasty procedure is a common treatment to open narrow arteries. A coronary stent is a mechanical tube inserted into a blocked artery to open and restore proper blood flow to the heart.

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What To Expect After Cardiac Ablation Surgery

You will be monitored for 2-6 hours after the procedure to check bleeding and vitals, including heart rate and blood pressure.

Most people go home the same day of the procedure. Others may need to stay in the hospital for 1-2 days, depending on their overall health status.

  • Pulmonary vein stenosis
  • Radiation exposure

Very rarely, the surgery may lead to death, although the chances of dying from cardiac ablation surgery are extremely low.

What Should You Avoid Doing After Having Cabg Surgery

Your body needs quite a bit of time to heal after a major surgery like CABG. Its important to follow your care teams instructions and ask them when you have questions. They will likely advise you to avoid certain activities while you recover, some of which may include the following:

  • It takes time for the sternum to heal. So for at least a couple of weeks after surgery, most people should avoid lifting, pushing, or pulling more than 10 pounds.

  • You should also limit use of your arms to simple everyday tasks like getting dressed and playing cards. In other words, dont lift your arms above your head or behind your back.

  • Dont drive for the first 2 to 3 weeks. This helps avoid injuring your chest, but its also because you may still be on pain meds and not feeling 100% yet.

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What To Expect While You Recover In The Hospital

There are a full range of cardiac surgery procedures that repair and restore heart function. How long you stay in the hospital depends on the type of surgery you have.

Immediately after surgery, youll receive care in the hospitals intensive care unit . A care team of cardiac ICU specialists, respiratory therapists and nurses monitors you closely.

After two to three days, youll transition to intermediate care. Here youll begin physical and occupational therapy to help you transition to home. Youll learn how to move through daily tasks while protecting your incision and minimizing discomfort as you heal.

For standard open-heart surgery, youll stay in the hospital for five to seven days. You may need more time to recover after more complex surgery. After minimally invasive procedures, youll stay for one to three days.

Many patients continue their recovery at home. If you need additional therapy, your doctor may recommend care at a rehabilitation facility before returning home.

You may experience a variety of symptoms after heart surgery, including chest pain, constipation, muscle pain, loss of appetite, swelling and trouble sleeping. Medications can provide relief, which should improve over time.

How Do You Care For Someone After Open Heart Surgery

WATCH Triple Bypass Open Heart Surgery

The thought of caring for your spouse after open heart surgery may be daunting. How do you know what to do or how to take care of them? Dont worry: your doctor will likely send you home with a lengthy list of post-surgical care tips, possibly including some suggestions for what to wear after open heart surgery, like a post-thorax vest to protect your loved ones sternum.

The most important thing to remember about caring for a loved one after surgery is to be prepared: know what kinds of meals might be best for healing, what type of transportation schedule youll need to set up to get them to and from rehabilitation appointments, what kinds of home-health aids they might need , and how to help manage their pain or nausea levels.

Post-surgical rehabilitation will likely include some form of physical therapy or occupational therapy. Youll want to discuss options for senior rehabilitation centers with your doctor to ensure you understand the basics of rehabilitation therapy and how to choose the senior care facility thats right for you or your loved one. For more information, read our blog post about how to determine when a senior might need rehabilitation therapy!

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Should A Dementia Patient Get A Pacemaker

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found that patients with Alzheimers disease and other forms of dementia are more likely to get a pacemaker than their peers with similar cardiac issues. According to the article published by the Fisher Center for Alzheimers Research Foundation, the researchers made the following conclusions:

  • Patients with dementia were 1.6 times more likely to require a pacemaker
  • Patients with mild cognitive impairment were 1.2 times more likely to require a pacemaker

While dementia patients are more likely to require a pacemaker, they do not present an increased risk for complications related to pacemaker surgery.

That said, dementia patients may present a higher risk for surgery in general, such as complications from general anesthesia. As such, dementia patients and their family members should consult with a specialist before making a final decision on any type of surgery.

Managing Pain After Open Heart Surgery

Managing your pain is an important part of your recovery after heart surgery. In addition to keeping you comfortable, pain control can help speed your recovery and reduce your risk of developing certain complications after surgery, like pneumonia and blood clots. Your pain level should be managed to the point that youre able to get up, walk around, cough and take deep breaths after surgery.

After heart surgery, you need to be able to move with some degree of comfort to aid the healing process, Dr. Tong says. Keeping your pain level manageable will help make sure your recovery stays on track.

You may leave the hospital with a prescription for pain medication and detailed instructions on how to use those medications to manage your pain.

People are often apprehensive about taking narcotic pain medications because of the risk of addiction, Dr. Tong notes. That is a healthy and very reasonable fear and an important conversation to have with your doctor. There are safeguards in place to stem opioid abuse and protect you from abusing medications. When it comes to prescription pain medication, for most people, its a matter of listening to your body. If you need it, take it. If you dont, dont.

If you have concerns about bringing narcotics into your home, or if you have a history of substance use disorder, be honest with your doctor. Theyll be able to discuss your options with you and determine a pain control plan with you.

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Sleeping Can Be Hard After Surgery

Its hard to find a comfortable position to sleep in. If you are a side or belly sleeper it can be hard laying on your back. Finding your favorite chest pillow will be your savior. You might also experience nightmares for a bit after surgery, but it will pass. If you continue to experience them, speak to your doctor and seek help if you feel like you are experiencing PTSD.

What Is The Fastest Way To Recover From Bypass Surgery


The fastest way to recover is to be patient with yourself. Take time to return to a normal routine dont try to rush it. Know that your cardiac care team cares about your recovery and is available to help you through this process.

Perhaps one of the most important steps to recovery is your outpatient cardiac rehabilitation program. This usually starts a few weeks after surgery. It includes guidance on exercise, nutrition, and lifestyle all the keys to heart health after CABG. The program is supervised by therapists who are specially trained to care for people with heart conditions.

In general, cardiac rehab programs last at least six weeks. But the length can vary depending on your needs. Its common to think its unnecessary or even too time-consuming. But we cant stress enough how important it is. Please speak with your care team if you have financial or other concerns.

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What Can I Expect Immediately After Open

After open-heart surgery, patients can expect to feel tired and sore. They will likely have a tube in their chest to help drain any excess fluid and will be attached to a machine that monitors their heart rate and blood pressure. Most patients stay in the hospital for about a week after surgery.

In this article, an expert at Michigan Medicine shares six important information about heart surgery recovery. Changes in eating habits can make you feel fatigued or lose an appetite. Because of the anesthetic and discomfort associated with healing, you may feel insomnia. The Michigan Medicine recommends a diet high in protein and low in fat, cholesterol, and sodium. Following open heart surgery, you will be responsible for managing your pain. Pain from surgical procedures is unavoidable, but it can be managed in a variety of ways. It is critical that you consume youropioids as soon as possible to avoid side effects.

A support system should be in place to help people cope with their daily physical and emotional needs. It is not uncommon for people to experience numbness, tingling, or hypersensitivity near the incision on the chest. This condition may only occur in some patients if they wear tight or constrictive clothing. You may also notice swelling if there is a large vein loss in the lower leg.

What Are The Side Effects After Open Heart Surgery

Its typical for older adults to experience some lingering pains or aches after their open heart surgery, but they shouldnt experience severe side effects if given proper care.

Here are a few common side effects that may affect elderly patients after their cardiac surgery:

  • Fatigue Patients typically feel tired or experience other emotional issues after the operation.
  • Postoperative Pneumonia Despite advancements in medical technology, elderly heart surgery patients commonly contract pneumonia.
  • Incision Issues The chest incision is particularly susceptible to issues. Some of these include infection, continuous bleeding, and swelling at the wound. Remind your loved one to keep their incision site clean to avoid these.
  • Loss of Voice Since the patient will be breathing through a breathing tube, they may lose their voice or be hoarse after the procedure. Their voice should return with enough time.
  • Sleeping Difficulties Discomfort and anxiety may cause your loved one to lose sleep, either before or after the operation. Narrow down the cause of their sleep issues and consult their doctor for treatment.

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Tips For Caring For Your Aging Loved One After Cardiac Surgery

Invasive or not, there will be things you should be prepared for as the caregiver of an older adult undergoing cardiac surgery. Here are some tips for doing that:

It is normal to be scared about having an aging loved one undergo heart surgery, and its just as normal to be apprehensive about what you can do to help. If you arent trained as a doctor or caregiver, you might question your abilities. Thats fine to do so. But dont let those normal fears prevent you from helping out.

Ask questions. Find information in books or from reputable online sources. Talk to other people who have gone through this. If you are prepared, have the logistics planned out and remain calm. You can be the rock your older loved one needs. These days, the most challenging parts of surgery are what comes next. You might not have a scalpel, but you can be armed with love and knowledge.

At Institute on Aging, were here to offer older adults and their caregivers resources to get through many of lifes challenges, including recovery from heart surgery. Connect with us today to learn how we help.

How Long Are You In Hospital For After A Heart Valve Operation

Life After Open-Heart Surgery

An aortic valve replacement can usually be completed in one to two weeks, though it may take up to three months before you fully recover. It will take a few weeks to adjust to the new lifestyle after you return home, but you should be able to get back to your usual routine in a matter of days.

Heart Valve Replacement: What To Expect

When you have surgery to repair a heart valve, you must take good care of yourself. This means that a person will stay with you at your home for at least the first week and a half after surgery. Because the average age for heart valve replacement is around 70, this type of procedure is not uncommon in this age group.

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How Does Coronary Stenting Work

Coronary stenting is a minimally invasive treatment for patients with CAD. Before performing a coronary angioplasty and stenting, doctors have to identify where the blockage is located. They do that by performing a cardiac catheterization. The procedure involves inserting a catheter though an artery in the wrist or leg to reach the coronary artery and inject dye. The doctors then take x-rays and identify where the blockage is located.

Coronary angioplasty and stenting are performed on patients who have severe blockage in one or more arteries. During this procedure, a stent is mounted on a balloon and inserted into the coronary artery. Upon reaching the blockage, the balloon is inflated and inserts the stent which expands to open the blocked artery. The balloon is removed and the stent is left in place, thus restoring proper blood flow.

Lets say theres an 80% or 90% blockage. Thats when we insert the stent to open the artery, said Krishnamurty V. Tummalapalli, MD, interventional cardiologist at UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute.

The stent also is more effective at preventing re-blockage in the artery than the simple coronary balloon angioplasty. Dr. Tummalapalli inserted the first coronary stent in Pittsburgh in 1991. He said the main advantage to using coronary stents is that the chance for re-blockage is in single digits.

What Should I Expect During Recovery At Home After Heart Surgery

The first six to eight weeks after heart surgery are usually the most challenging. You may recover quite quickly if you were in good health before your operation. However, your recovery may be slower if you were very ill before surgery or if you experienced any complications after surgery.

Remember that you should see slow steady improvement as you recover. Call your family doctor if you have or develop any condition that seems to get steadily worse over three days.

  • Managing follow-up appointments

    What kind of follow-up appointments will I need after my heart surgery?

    Once you are home from the hospital after your heart surgery, please arrange the following appointments:

  • Within the first week you are at home, call to make an appointment to see your family doctor to have your sutures or clips removed. Remember to bring the removal kit you were provided with before you left the hospital.
  • Your heart surgeon may see you two to three months after your surgery for a follow-up appointment. Please refer to your personal discharge documents for details. Call 604-522-6800 to arrange this appointment.
  • You should also expect a call from a cardiac rehabilitation program. Referrals are made automatically when you are discharged and you do not need to initiate this call yourself.
  • Pain or tenderness
  • Make an appointment with your family doctor if your incision continues to drain and/or you note any signs of infection.

    When will my incision heal into a scar and how do I care for it?

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