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Recovery Time From Surgery

WATCH Triple Bypass Open Heart Surgery

Full recovery time after or valve surgery can last between six to eight weeks, but you may have residual pain at the chest incision site that persists a little bit longer.

Because each case is different, you should adhere to the specific guidelines provided by your surgeon, cardiologist, or other associated health care provider.

Most open-heart surgery patients are discharged from the hospital and return home between four and six days.

Youll Play A Key Role In Managing Your Pain

Post-surgical pain is unavoidable but can be managed in a variety of ways. Because of recent national legislation changes, physicians can prescribe no more than a seven-day supply of opioids to patients at the time of their hospital discharge.

Weaning yourself off opioids as soon as possible is important. You may need less than a seven-day supply, depending on your condition. Some patients do not require any opioids for pain management.

Other options for pain management include:

  • Oral and topical analgesics such as acetaminophen and Salonpas patches

  • Applying a warm cloth to the area, using caution near the incision because nerve sensitivity may be decreased, causing the skin to burn

  • Relaxation techniques such as meditation and guided imagery

If you are on long-term opioids, you should meet with your prescribing physician to begin to wean down to the lowest dose possible before surgery.

Why Is Open Heart Surgery Performed

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:

Read Also: Why Has My Resting Heart Rate Gone Up

Exercising At A Health Club

After you complete your cardiac rehabilitation, you may be cleared to participate in a self-guided exercise program at your local gym.

Do your homework and find out if the staff is qualified and equipped to work with cardiac patients.

Ask if the trainers have experience working with people with heart problems.

Ensure they have all the relevant emergency protocols in place .

Preparing For Open Heart Surgery


Heart surgery corrects problems when other treatments dont work or cant be used for some reason. The most common type of heart surgery for adults iscoronary artery bypass grafting. In bypass surgery, arteries or veins are removed from elsewhere in your body and grafted to reroute blood around a clogged artery to supply blood to your heart muscle.

Your health care team which may include surgeons, cardiologists, anesthesiologists, nurses, and therapists will discuss your operation with you. Theyll welcome your questions.

If your heart surgery is planned, and not an emergency, youll meet first with your doctor and health care team. Theyll tell you what to expect and how to prepare. Before your surgery:

Read Also: Aha Heart Failure Stages

What Are The Types Of Open

There are two ways to perform open-heart surgery:

  • On-pump: A heart-lung bypass machine connects to the heart and temporarily takes over for the heart and lungs. It circulates blood through the body while moving blood away from the heart. The surgeon then operates on a heart that isnt beating and doesnt have blood flow. After surgery, the surgeon disconnects the device and the heart starts to work again.
  • Off-pump:Off-pump bypass surgery takes place on a heart that continues to beat on its own. This approach only works for coronary artery bypass grafting surgery . Your surgeon may call this beating-heart surgery.

What Happens During Open

Heart surgery is complex. Some surgeries may take six hours or longer. You will receive anesthesia and be asleep during the procedure.

Surgery steps vary depending on the heart condition and procedure. In general, your surgeon:

  • Makes a 6- to 8-inch long incision down the middle of your chest.
  • Cuts the breastbone and spreads your ribcage apart to reach your heart.
  • Connects the heart to a heart-lung bypass machine, if youll have an on-pump surgery. An anesthesiologist gives IV medication to stop your heart from beating and monitors you during the surgery.
  • Repairs your heart.
  • Restores blood flow to your heart. Usually, your heart starts beating on its own. Sometimes, the heart needs a mild electrical shock to restart it.
  • Disconnects the heart-lung bypass machine.
  • Closes the breastbone or other incision with wires or sutures that remain in your body.
  • Uses stitches to close the skin incision.

Also Check: How Long Heart Attack Pain Last

National Experts In Minimally Invasive Therapies

As surgical techniques advance, our surgeons can treat more heart problems in less invasive ways. Our team includes leading specialists who repair certain heart problems by guiding sophisticated tools through catheters in your blood vessels.

In general, catheter-based therapies require small incisions and usually involve a much easier recovery. Some patients go home the same day of surgery.

Our teams national expertise enables us to offer a range of innovative catheter-based heart and vascular treatment options. However, these options are not right for every circumstance. Ask your doctor for more information or explore cardiac catheterization in more detail.

Why Might I Need An Open Aortic Valve Replacement

Open Heart Surgery: What to Expect (English CC)

When your aortic valve is working poorly such as in aortic valve stenosis or aortic valve regurgitation, you may need this procedure.

  • In aortic stenosis, your valve is unable to open fully, and less blood is able to exit your heart.
  • In aortic regurgitation, your valve is leaky. Some blood leaks backward through the valve instead of moving out to the rest of your body.

In both of these cases, you may need to have your aortic valve replaced. A poorly working aortic valve may lead to symptoms, such as:

  • Shortness of breath
  • An unpleasant awareness of your heartbeat

If these symptoms get worse, surgery may be needed. Your doctor may recommend the surgery even if you dont have significant symptoms, since surgery is most effective if symptoms are not too advanced.

Both aortic stenosis and aortic regurgitation can result from general aging of the valve. Other causes of aortic valve disease include:

  • Heart birth defects
  • Bacterial infection of the heart valve
  • A tear in the aorta
  • Aortic aneurysm
  • Certain genetic conditions

Also Check: Define Congestive Heart Failure

What Are The Risks Of Heart Bypass Surgery

All surgeries come with the chance of problems. Some include:

  • Blood clots that can raise your chances of a stroke, a heart attack, or lung problems
  • Problems breathing

Many things affect these risks, including your age, how many bypasses you get, and any other medical conditions you may have. You and your surgeon will discuss these before your operation.

Once youâve recovered, your symptoms of angina will be gone or much better. Youâll be able to be more active, and youâll have a lower risk of getting a heart attack. Best of all, the surgery can add years to your life.

Overview Of Open Heart Surgery

Open heart bypass surgery is a treatment for coronary artery disease , also known as heart disease. CAD is narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries, which are essential for your heart to function properly.

Heart bypass surgery is known medically as coronary artery bypass graft surgery. CABG surgery creates a new route for blood to flow around the blocked part of the coronary artery to the heart muscle.

CABG is an incredibly common procedure, with more than 200,000 performed in the United States each year. If you or a loved one may be a candidate for CABG, talk with your doctor to understand how this treatment could help reduce symptoms and treat your heart disease.

Our team of expert cardiac surgeons at Dignity Health performs open heart bypass surgery. If you would like to learn more, Find a Doctor near you today.

Also Check: What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Congestive Heart Failure

Must Haves After Open Heart Surgery

Posted by Heart Hugger on Apr 20, 2022 8:58:06 AM

As you prepare for heart surgery, youll need to start thinking about how you can transform your house into the perfect place for your recovery. While the recovery process for any major surgery is no walk in the park, there are ways to prepare yourself for the coming weeks. Here are some factors you should consider to make your recovery a smoother experience.

Here’s What To Expect Once You’re Home From The Hospital

Heart Warrior Dallas

Every day, thousands of people in the United States undergo open-heart surgery. This major operation leaves them with a long chest incision and a lengthy recovery. The time it takes to fully heal will depend on the person’s age and overall health and the complexity of the operation.

The most common is coronary artery bypass grafting, which uses a blood vessel taken from another part of the body to bypass a blocked heart artery. Open-heart surgery is also done to repair or replace a faulty heart valve or to repair damaged or abnormal areas of the heart.

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  • Research health conditions
  • Prepare for a doctor’s visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise

Also Check: How Do You Find Your Max Heart Rate

What Happens During Heart Bypass Surgery

Youâll be asleep the whole time. Most operations take between 3 and 6 hours. A breathing tube goes in your mouth. It’s attached to a ventilator, which will breathe for you during the procedure and right afterward.

A surgeon makes a long cut down the middle of your chest. Then they’ll spread your rib cage open so that they can reach your heart.

Your surgical team will use medication to temporarily stop your heart. A machine called a heart-lung machine will keep blood and oxygen flowing through your body while your heart isn’t beating.

Then the surgeon will remove a blood vessel, called a graft, from another part of your body, like your chest, leg, or arm. They’ll attach one end of it to your aorta, a large artery that comes out of your heart. Then, they’ll the other end to an artery below the blockage.

The graft creates a new route for blood to travel to your heart. If you have multiple blockages, your surgeon may do more bypass procedures during the same surgery .

In some cases, the surgeon may not need to stop your heart. These are called âoff-pumpâ procedures. Others need only tiny cuts. These are called âkeyholeâ procedures.

Some surgeries rely on the help of robotic devices. Your surgeon will recommend the best operation for you.

Endoscopic Saphenous Vein Harvesting

Endoscopic saphenous vein harvesting is a less invasive method of removing the veins from your legs.

Rather than making a large cut in your leg, the surgeon makes a number of small ones near your knee. This is known as keyhole surgery.

A special device called an endoscope will be inserted into the cut.

An endoscope is a thin, long flexible tube with a light source and video camera at one end, so that images of the inside of your body can be relayed to an external television monitor.

The endoscope allows the surgeon to locate your saphenous vein. Surgical instruments can also be passed along the endoscope to remove a section of the vein. Nearby tissue is then sterilised with antibiotic fluid and the cut is healed.

The main advantages of this technique are that there’s likely to be a:

  • shorter hospital stay
  • lower risk of leg wound infections
  • quicker recovery from CABG

Also Check: What Are Some Signs Of A Heart Attack

Heart Surgery Patient Guide

If you or your loved one needs open heart surgery, learn what to expect in the care journey.

Open heart surgery has granted countless people a second chance at life. Major surgery requires meticulous expertise.

If you or a loved one needs open heart surgery, rest assured our renowned heart surgeons are national leaders at what they do. Our entire team is committed to supporting you along your journey to healing and new possibilities.

Heart Procedures And Surgeries

Life in the OR â Open Heart Surgery

If you’ve had a heart attack, you may have already had certain procedures to help you survive your heart attack and diagnose your condition. For example, many heart attack patients have undergone thrombolysis, a procedure that involves injecting a clot-dissolving agent to restore blood flow in a coronary artery. This procedure is administered within a few hours of a heart attack. If this treatment isn’t done immediately after a heart attack, many patients will need to undergo coronary angioplasty or coronary artery bypass graft surgery later to improve blood supply to the heart muscle.

See diagnostic tests and procedures to better understand the tests you may have to undergo to find out if you had a heart attack, how much damage was done and what degree of coronary artery disease you have.

Read Also: What Causes Congestive Heart Failure

Open Heart Surgery What To Expect As A Patient

Diagnosis Most patients will see a cardiologist first who will diagnose their problem based on their story, physical exam, and tests. Multiple tests may be required including echocardiograms, CT scans, and a heart catheterization. Once the diagnosis and the need for open heart surgery have been determined then the patient is referred to a cardiac surgeon for an evaluation.

Meeting the Surgeon Surgeons will often be suggested by the cardiologist depending on their referral patterns however often patients will select their own surgeons based on other recommendations or their own research. Once this is decided the patient will go and meet the surgeon in clinic. Here the surgeon will talk with the patient and review the testing. Based on this meeting a surgical recommendation can be made and operative risk and suitability can be determined. In many cases the surgeon may ask for further testing to be performed.

Details of the Operation

Making the Incision In the case of classic open heart surgery, the breast bone will be split open using a saw. Alternative approaches may use incisions to the side of the bone between the ribs or through some of the ribs on the side. In robotic heart approaches, no large incisions are made, and small tubes are inserted through which the operation is performed, sometimes called keyhole surgery.

The heart lung bypass machine.

The Operation Itself

open heart surgery beating heart with a bypass

open heart surgery sternal wiring

A Humbling Walkthen Runto Recovery

When I woke up from the surgery, I had an IV line in my left leg, an arterial line in my left arm, an IV line in my right arm, a bladder catheter, an IV line in my jugular, two chest tubes and three pacing wires leading to my heartand I was intubated. I didnt know it was possible to have that many things coming out of my body at once.

When I got out of bed a couple hours later, the pain was horrific. I felt nauseous, broke out in a cold sweat and my blood pressure, previously always low, plummetedalong with my heart rate. I didnt lose consciousness, but the machines signaled a code, and a team of nurses came running into the room. This crash happened two more times.

It was scary to be aware that something was going wrong, but not be able to do anything about it. I watched people rush around me, and listened to them deciding what to do, while my surgeon stood across the room keeping an eye on things. But I felt too weak to really even talk. I felt strangely numb.

Yet four days after my surgery, I was able to leave the hospital. I still had some fluid around my heart and in both of my lungs, so the doctors told me to walk as much as I could to get rid of it, and to prevent pneumonia and other complications.

So that’s what I did.

One week after open heart surgery, Oyler walked just over 7 miles

And thats not nothing.

Recommended Reading: What To Expect After Heart Surgery

Preparing For The Surgery

Preparation for open heart surgery starts the night before. A person should eat an evening meal as usual but must not consume any food or drink after midnight.

It is a good idea to wear loose, comfortable clothing to assist with restricted movement following surgery, but wear whatever is comfortable.

Be sure to have all personal medical information on hand. This might include a list of medications, recent illness, and insurance information.

It is normal to feel anxious before an anesthetic, and people should not hesitate to seek reassurance from the healthcare team.

The doctor may request that the person washes their upper body with antibacterial soap. A member of the healthcare team may need to shave the persons chest area before they can have the anesthetic.

The doctors may also need to run tests before surgery, such as monitoring the heart or taking blood samples. A doctor or nurse might place a line into a vein to enable the delivery of fluids.

After the medical team has completed the preliminary tasks, the anesthesiologist will administer general anesthesia.

How Is Open Heart Surgery Performed

Open Heart Surgery Survivor Fishing Lover Remembrance Gift

Your open heart surgery will be performed in a hospital. It requires a large incision in your chest and through your breastbone . Open surgery allows your surgeon to directly view and access the surgical area.

If you are having on-pump surgery, your surgical team will stop your heart with medicine and the heart-lung machine will pump blood to the body. Your surgeon will take your heart off the machine when the surgery is complete.

Some heart surgeries can now be performed at certain medical centers using minimally invasive techniques. These surgeries include coronary artery bypass surgery and heart valve repair and replacement.

Minimally invasive procedures use smaller incisions instead of the larger incision made in open surgery. The surgeon uses special instruments with an attached camera to see the surgical area on a video screen. Minimally invasive surgery, as compared to an open procedure, generally has a faster recovery time, less pain, and a lower risk of some complications, such as infection.

Your surgeon will advise you on which procedure is best for you and how long you need to stay in the hospital based on your diagnosis, age, medical history, general health, and possibly your personal preference. Learn about the different procedures and ask why your surgeon will use a particular type for you.

Types of anesthesia that may be used

Your surgeon will perform open heart surgery using either general anesthesia or regional anesthesia.

Read Also: What Takes Blood Away From The Heart

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