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 you’ve 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.
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.
Do You Have To Make Any Dietary Changes After Heart Bypass Surgery
This eating plan is rich in:
This easy-to-follow diet has been proven to reduce heart attack risk and improve the health of the arteries. For some people, cutting back on salt is also important, since salt may contribute to high blood pressure and fluid buildup.
Don’t Miss: How Do You Lower Your Resting Heart Rate
Activity Guidelines After Surgery
During your surgery, your sternum was cut. It takes six weeks for the bone to heal, so certain activities should be avoided during that time. Activities to avoid are those that cause pulling or uneven strain on the breastbone, or activities that put you at risk for reinjuring the bone.
Avoid activities that require fast movements and quick reflexes, as these will be slowed for a few weeks due to soreness, weakness, fatigue and medication.
Quick Reference Guide To Common Activities
Some common activities you may wish to do after surgery and the time periods you must wait after surgery before doing them are listed below. These recommended waiting periods are minimum guidelines only. You may wish to wait longer. Only begin an activity when you feel strong enough.
We encourage you to write down the activities that are important to you and ask your cardiologist and surgeon for advice of when you can start them again.
|As soon as you feel able|
|Wait at least six weeks and check with your cardiologist|
|Wait at least three months and check with your cardiologist or surgeon|
Recommended Reading: What Does Congestive Heart Failure Mean
Why Might I Hug A Pillow As A Sternal Precaution
Some hospitals provide heart surgery patients with a pillowoften a heart-shaped oneupon discharge. The pillow is meant to be hugged while coughing or sneezing, which can put significant pressure on the chest and lungs. The pillow is believed to help stabilize the chest during the post-operative recovery period.
Sex After Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery
One of the main concerns with sex after surgery is pressure on the sternum.
You may need to experiment with different positions in order to find the one that least aggravates your incision site.
You should speak with your doctor to discuss when is the best time to return to sex after your operation .
Read Also: How To Find Resting Heart Rate
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.
What Can You Do To Lower Your Risk For Complications
Every situation is different, so its important to talk to your doctor about when it will be safe to travel before you have your surgery.
Your primary care doctor or surgeon can evaluate your personal risks. With regard to travel, be sure to discuss:
- your risk for blood clots
- any medications youre taking, such as blood thinners and whether adjustments are necessary
- any supplies you should have, such as graduated compression stockings or supplemental oxygen
If youll need special equipment or assistance on your flight, you should also check with the airline before booking your trip.
When traveling soon after surgery, it may be helpful to have a travel companion whos familiar with your situation.
Recommended Reading: Can Diabetes Cause Heart Palpitations
How To Lower Your Risk For Blood Clots
Sitting still for long periods can restrict blood flow and increase the risk of developing blood clots.
Here are a few ways to improve your circulation while traveling:
- While seated, extend your legs straight out and flex your ankles so your toes point toward you. Hold for 15 seconds.
- If space allows, pull one knee up toward your chest and hold for 15 seconds. Alternate and repeat 10 times.
- Get up and walk for a few minutes every hour.
- Skip alcohol but drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
- Wear compression stockings to help keep blood from pooling in your legs.
Its also important to be aware of any signs of blood clots, such as redness, swelling, tenderness, and pain.
Also Check: Does Benadryl Increase Heart Rate
Resuming Physical Activity After Surgery
If your energy level is running low, remember that its normal to feel tired after surgery. It may be frustrating at times not being able to do everything you did before your surgery, but just relax and know that this is only temporary.
Before you get back to any vigorous forms of activity, its important to get comfortable doing what are known as ADLs, or activities of daily living.
Also Check: Right Sided Heart Failure Causes
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.
Dont Miss: How Accurate Is Fitbit Charge 2 Heart Rate
Recovery Time After Bypass Surgery
As with heart valve repair or replacement, you can expect at least six to eight weeks of recovery time after coronary artery bypass surgery. While rest is important for healing, so is regular physical activity.
Regular aerobic exercise helps offset the deleterious effects of surgery and bed rest, such as muscle atrophy, muscle and joint stiffness, and balance and coordination.
Early mobilisation should begin about one to two days after surgery including several short duration walks per day around the nurses station.
Most coronary artery bypass patients return home after a four to six day hospitalisation.
Recommended Reading: Does Arousal Increase Heart Rate
Weight Lifting Restrictions After Gastric Sleeve Surgery
After your surgery, you will undergo a strict exercise program. You should be able to increase your heart rate and sweat while doing light exercises, but do not push yourself too hard. Your heart rate should not exceed 100 beats per minute. Your primary care provider should also want to check in with you frequently. During the first two weeks after your surgery, you are not allowed to lift any weights more than 15 pounds.
After the procedure, you will be put on a weight-lifting restriction for 6 weeks. While minimally invasive surgical techniques have lower risks, you must still be gentle. Your doctor will recommend gentle activity for the first few weeks after your surgery. This helps decrease the risk of blood clots, and it also helps your body heal. When you are cleared by your surgeon, you may be able to resume light activity. During this period, you will be advised to reduce your daily physical activities.
After gastric sleeve surgery, you may experience some mood swings, especially if you have undergone the surgery. Your appetite will decrease, but you will be less active and fatigued. This is a normal reaction to the surgical process, so you need to take it easy and rest. You should wait two weeks and rest as much as possible. Afterward, you can return to more vigorous activity after two weeks.
You Should Avoid Heavy Lifting For 6-12 Weeks After Gastric Sleeve Surgery
Can You Weight Lift After Having A Heart Valve Replaced
Exercise is often included as part of long-term therapy for any form of heart surgery. Most of the exercise focuses on walking or biking, either of which can be used to gradually increase heart rate as a way to improve fitness and work the muscles of the heart. But strength training also can be part of your workout routine, but certain restrictions apply.
Recommended Reading: Does High Heart Rate Mean High Blood Pressure
Any Physical Limitations After Open Heart Surgery Asks Aaron
By Adam Pick on July 28, 2009
Aaron just emailed me an interesting question about physical limitations following open heart surgery.
He writes, Adam I was just given the news that my aortic valve is at the end of its rope. I knew it would happen someday as I was diagnosed years ago with stenosis. However, I wish that someday wasnt now. Im a very active father and husband that enjoys playing football, soccer, tennis and golf with my boys. I want to know the truth about the recovery. Will I be physically limited after this is all over? If so, how? Thanks, Aaron
Aarons email just brought back several, distinct memories following my own diagnosis. Mostly, I remember the fear, uncertainty and doubt that rattled through my brain in overwhelming, unanswered questions like, Will I ever be the same again?
So you know, it has been over three years since my surgery.
I can tell you that I am not the same.
I am much, much, much better.
How can Adam say that? you might be wondering.
Well Let me start with the physical nature of my recovery. Although my recovery was challenging, I am pretty much back at full strength. As I have documented in prior blogs, I now participate in all of the physical activities I enjoyed prior to my Ross Procedure which include swimming, gardening, hiking, SCUBA diving, golf, surfing, lifting weights, etc.
Therefore, I do not see open heart surgery as physically limiting.
Huh? What is Adam talking about? you might be thinking.
When To Call The Doctor
- You have chest pain or shortness of breath that does not go away when you rest.
- Your pulse feels irregular — it is very slow or very fast .
- You have dizziness, fainting, or you are very tired.
- You have a severe headache that does not go away.
- You have a cough that does not go away
- You are coughing up blood or yellow or green mucus.
- You have problems taking any of your heart medicines.
- Your weight goes up by more than 2 pounds in a day for 2 days in a row.
- Your wound changes. It is red or swollen, it has opened, or there is more drainage coming from it.
- You have chills or a fever over 101°F .
Also Check: How Does Heart Failure Affect The Lungs
What Is Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery
Coronary artery bypass surgery is a common procedure for reestablishing blood flow to heart muscle.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, its important to know that coronary artery disease is merely a fancy term for clogged plumbing in the arteries that deliver blood to your heart muscle .
Its possible to have up to a 75% blockage without any symptoms.
Usually anything higher than this will tend to elicit symptoms and may potentially require medical intervention to open the artery and reestablish blood flow.
If left unchecked, it can result in a heart attack.
If youre a visual learner, please check out this short video which will give you an overview of the procedure and what to expect.
Resuming Activities After Bypass Surgery
Returning to your activities of daily living can be a challenge upon release from the hospital.
Its normal to feel tired and exhausted as if you were run over by a bus.
But rest assured this is expected and you will progressively regain your energy over the next couple months.
Before you get stuck into any heavy structured exercise, its important to work through your daily tasks as safely as possible to minimise any complications.
You May Like: How To Calm Heart Rate
What Are The Most Common Complications During Cabg Recovery
When you are ready to go home, you will be given a list of medications and instructions to help you recover from your operation. You will likely have some new prescriptions, and you may be told not to take some of your old medications. This may seem a little overwhelming at first, but your nurse will sit down with you and go over the instructions in detail. If you have any questions, your nurse will be able to help make things clear before you leave.
From Hospital Discharge To Six 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:
- 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.
Don’t Miss: What Heart Rate Burns Fat
Cholesterol And Saturated Fat Restriction
Cholesterol is a necessary fatty substance discovered in the body and numerous animal foods. Fats are concentrated sources of energy which occur in 3 types: polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and filled. People who have huge amounts of cholesterol and hydrogenated fats in their blood are at increased risk of having thickening of their blood vessels throughout their bodies. This is since hydrogenated fats and cholesterol in your blood will collect along the walls of your capillary causing them to narrow. If this narrowing becomes severe in the capillary of your heart, the blood supply to your heart will not get enough oxygen, and the cells of your heart will die. This is called Coronary Artery Disease.
In addition to your diet, your medications might also enhance the level of fats in your blood. Hence, in order to avoid coronary artery disease, your overall fat consumption has to be limited after surgery. Generally, your overall fat intake must not be more than 30 % of your overall calories every day. Enhancing the proportion of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat in your diet and decreasing your overall saturated fat intake to less than 10 % of your total fat intake will in fact assist to lower cholesterol and saturated fat levels in your blood. The aim of this diet is to keep the levels of fats in your blood within normal limits.