You May Experience Memory Loss And/or Brain Fog
There are a couple of things that can cause memory loss and brain fog after open-heart surgery. If you were put on bypass, it can cause these issues. It is also called pump head. Post-operative cognitive dysfunction can also cause memory loss. Both of these are usually short-term but can have the possibility of long-term effects. For the first six months, I really struggled with memory loss and brain fog. As time went on, it started to get better and I started to regain my memory and wasnt so foggy-headed.
Recovering At Home From Open Heart Surgery
Youve just had open heart surgery and youre now recovering at home. Mercy Healthcare Services, a San Diego-based Home Health Agency specializing in post-open heart care, have put together this video guide just for you. In our 4 videos, we talk about the top reasons why patients get re-admitted to the hospital and what you can do to prevent them.
One of the top reasons post-open heart patients get re-admitted to the hospital is a condition known as Heart Failure. Heart failure is when the heart does not pump or fill with blood well. This causes the heart to lag behind in its job of moving blood throughout the body.
This can lead to symptoms such as swelling, trouble breathing, and feeling tired. If you have heart failure, your heart has not actually “failed” or stopped beating. It just isn’t working as well as it should.
So, what are the symptoms of heart failure?
1. Changes in breathing. Every morning, when you get up, you need to check and look for changes in breathing.
Ask yourself these questions:
Can I breathe as well as I normally can?
Am I getting out of breath doing things I can normally do without a problem? Doi
Am I coughing more than usual?
Did I use more pillows than usual to sleep last night?
2. Changes in weight
Weigh yourself every morning after urinating but before eating. Write down your weight on a calendar. Then ask yourself:
· Has my weight gone up or gone down compared to yesterday? If so, by how many pounds?
3. New or worse swelling
Your Eating Habits May Change
You may notice that youve lost your appetite or you just feel too tired to eat. This is common, so be patient. Your appetite will soon be back to normal.
We suggest you try eating frequent, small meals throughout the day. You need proper nutrition to enable your body to heal and get stronger.
We recommend a diet low in fat, cholesterol and sodium and high in protein. Good sources of protein include fish, eggs, dairy, beans and nuts. Limit the amount of salt in your diet to 2,000 milligrams a day. Foods known to be high in salt include restaurant food, soups, pizza, bacon and other processed meats.
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 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.
Open Heart Surgery Scar
Given the fact that open heart surgery requires a large incision to be made to the chest, you should take all the necessary measures to protect the incision and make sure that the wound heals properly. Maintaining excellent hygiene is essential, so as to prevent infection and guarantee that you have a clean scar in the end. Avoid soaking the incision in hot water until the wound heals but be sure to take regular showers and keep the area clean. If the scar looks infected, then be sure to contact the doctor and see what treatment options are available.
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The First Few Weeks At Home
During the first few weeks after hospital discharge, many people who have undergone heart bypass surgery:
- Experience low energy levels and feel fatigued frequently
- Have intermittent post-operative pain
- Need to continue taking pain medication, as ordered by the healthcare provider
- Are not yet able to return to work
- Have strict activity limitations such as a lifting and driving restrictions
- May experience sadness and mood swings
- Commonly have symptoms of major depression
Coping During the First Few Weeks at Home
You should rest often and sleep when you feel tired. Sleep will help your body recover and help to replenish your energy level. If you have trouble getting enough sleep at night, there are some things you can do to help, including:
- Be sure to establish a regular pattern of going to bed and getting up at the same time every day.
- If you have frequent insomnia, you may want to eliminate naps to ensure you are tired at night.
- Take your pain pills before you go to bed
- Be sure to sleep on your back for the first four to six weeks while your breastbone heals.
Coping with Pain
Pain after bypass surgery is common, some things you can do to relieve pain include:
Important Activity Warning
- Lifting objects that weigh over 10 lbs: This includes children, laundry baskets, trash receptacles and other objects.
- Driving: Even a minor car crash could cause the chest area to slam into the steering wheel.
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Are There Alternatives To Standard Open
Thanks to medical advancements, many procedures that once required opening the chest can now take place using minimally invasive heart surgery or with small incisions. The surgeon sometimes still needs to cut through part of the breastbone .
Depending on your situation, your surgeon may be able to use these methods:
- Catheter-based: Your surgeon threads a catheter to the heart. The surgeon then inserts surgical instruments, balloons, or stents through the catheter to perform a procedure. Catheter-based procedures include transcatheter aortic valve replacement and coronary angioplasty and stenting.
- Video-assisted thoracic surgery : Your surgeon performs VATS by inserting a tiny video camera and surgical instruments into several small chest incisions. Your surgeon may use VATS to place a pacemaker, repair heart valves or treat an arrhythmia.
- Robotically-assisted: Certain patients with valvular heart disease, cardiac tumors, atrial fibrillation and septal defects may be candidates for this minimally invasive approach.
You May Experience Collarbone And Sternum Pain After Open
Sometimes you can have prolonged collarbone and sternum pain. Collarbone pain and sternum pain can be caused by the trauma of the surgery on your body or sternal wires. This pain can be sometimes helped with cardiac rehab or a resternotomy. However, make sure to communicate with your doctor about your pain to make sure its normal. After this past open heart surgery, Ive had a lot of pain and clicking in my shoulders and chest. Its caused a lot of chronic pain but working with physical therapy has helped me regain strength.
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Open Heart Surgery Recovery Time
In my opinion, the recovery time from heart valve repair and heart valve replacement surgery needs much, much, much more attention and patient education.
âWhy does Adam say that?âyou might be wondering.
Wellâ¦ Leading up to my open heart surgery, much of the focus was strictly on the surgical process of replacing my diseased heart valve.
The key questions raised during this time were:
- âWhich surgical option should I chose?â
- âWhat type of valve replacement should I select?â
- âWho will be my surgeon?â
- âWhere will the surgery take place?â
- âHow much will the surgery cost?â
Needless to say, these are all incredibly important questions.
Yet, as I look back on it, neither my cardiologist or surgeon sat me down to discuss open heart surgery recovery time.
It is true that I received some coaching on the âdoâs and donâtsâ of heart valve surgery recovery. I receiving a ten-page handout upon hospital discharge. However, I never received a detailed, comprehensive set of verbal or written instructions to accelerate or appropriately pace my open heart surgery recovery time.
As a result, my recovery was filled with many unexpected challenges and pitfalls. To some extent, my recovery turned into a rollercoaster â with multiple âupsâ and âdownsâ. Some of the issues I faced included cardiac depression, sternum pain and Vicodin addiction.
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What Should You Do To Recover From Heart Surgery
A full recovery from open heart surgery will take up to 3 month, and most of the recovery time will be at home. Understanding what you can and cannot do is important to recovering well. Keep in mind these dos and donts for a speedy and full recovery.
Do Establish A Routine
Ward off depression and allow your body to adjust to being home by creating a daily routine. Wake at the same time each day, have regular meal times, schedule exercise, visits, and entertainment during the day, and go to bed at a regular time.
Dont Over Do It
You will be limited in the number of stairs you can climb and the amount you can lift. Dont cheat. The limits are set to allow your sternum to heal properly and to keep your heart from overworking before it has recovered.
Do Attend Cardiac Rehabilitation
As you recover your heart will need to be strengthened. During cardiac rehabilitation your heart is constantly monitored while you exercise. You will regain strength and endurance, but also will gain confidence in your repaired heart.
Dont Doze All Day
Take a short nap in the afternoon if you are very tired, but otherwise try to avoid sleeping during the day to allow your body to readjust to a normal schedule.
Do Wear A Seatbelt
Until your sternum is completely healed, you will not be able to drive. If you ride in a car, do wear your seatbelt. The seatbelt may be uncomfortable against your chest. Using a small towel as padding may be more comfortable.
Dont Worry About Decreased Concentration
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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.
The Second Day After Surgery
On the second day after your heart bypass surgery, you may:
- Be expected to get out of bed several times per day: You’ll be prompted to walk short distances in the hallway. You should try to walk every day and slowly, gradually, increase the distance that you walked from the day before. Walking helps prevent common post-surgery complications such as pneumonia and constipation.
- Be able to sit up in a chair: You’ll be encouraged to eat your meals out of bed.
- Begin eating solid foods and drinking liquids as tolerated: There will be a limit to the amount of fluids you can drink over a 24-hour period.
- Be moved to a regular cardiac unit: When you are moved out of the ICU, your heart will continue to be monitored closely via a small portable device called a telemetry unit, which continually transmits your heart’s rhythm, heart rate, breathing and blood pressure, remotely. This enables the nurses to monitor your vital signs, even when they are not in the room with you.
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Emotional Disbalance May Occur
In open heart surgery, both physical and emotional healing is involved. It means that during the recovery process, both your physical and emotional energy need to be invested. For this, you might experience some emotional distress during your recovery period. It is common to feel stressed after the operation. Generally, patients experience such issues for nearly three months after their surgery. Here is what they feel:
- Difficulty concentrating
- A lack of motivation
Six Weeks To Three Months
After six weeks, youll be largely recovered and youll then be able to resume heavier housework and gardening, business or recreational travel, aerobic exercises without weights, driving, and dog walking.
The expectation, more or less, is that you can start moving towards pre-operation levels of activity. That said, dont push it and seek out your healthcare providers clearance if you want to try anything more strenuous or new.
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Here’s What To Expect Once You’re Home From The Hospital
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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What Happens After Open
Depending on the procedure, you may stay in the hospital intensive care unit for a day or longer. When youre ready, you will move to a regular hospital room.
You can expect to stay several days in the hospital. Your heart care team will explain how to care for your incision. You may have a special firm pillow to protect your chest when you cough, sneeze or get out of bed.
After surgery, you may experience:
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Heart Valve Replacement Surgery Recovery Period Depends On The Necessary Precautions
Once you return to home from the hospital, you have to spend about a few weeks to a few months to recover from your surgery. Full recovery period in this case varies among people and is according to ones age and physical condition. In addition, recovery period primarily depends on the level of motivation possessed by a patient to work with consulted doctor.
Limit Your Regular Activities: While you are in the recovery phase, you should make sure to put a limit on most of your regular activities. If possible, you should stay a few weeks on leave from your job. Furthermore, you should discuss with your doctor for identifying whether return to work is a safe option for you or not.
Stop Driving for a Period of Few Weeks: Your doctor may advice you to avoid or stop driving your car/vehicle for a period of about few weeks. This is because your body requires some time to regain its normal agility as well as coordination and to allow healing of your incision.
Strictly Avoid Applying Direct Pressure on the Wound: You should strictly avoid applying direct pressure to the surgical wound if you want to assure about proper healing. For instance, you should avoid lifting anything heavy or the one that causes you strain at least for 6 weeks. These include any child, milk containers, backpack/briefcase, grocery bags and similar others.
The Healthcare Provider In This Case May Be Negligent In Some Way
For example, if the doctor failed to administer the right drugs, this could be considered negligence. Likewise, if the patient was given the wrong dosage or mix up of medications, again this could be considered negligence. It really is up to the courts to determine what amount the case will receive based on the particular facts of each case. This can become quite complex and is why legal counsel is often sought out by plaintiffs.
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