When To Seek Medical Advice
Follow any advice that you have been given on discharge from hospital.
See a GP if you have:
- worsening pain in or around the wound
- redness and swelling around the wound
- pus or blood coming from the wound
- a very high temperature or you feel hot and shivery
Recovering In Stages After Aortic Valve Replacement
Life can be good again, says Ruth, a critical care nurse who learned about the far-reaching impact of heart surgery, first-hand.
Ruth started out running around the park with her daughter and her friends when they were young, and from there kept on exercising in one form or another. The first indication that something was wrong with her heart was when she was living in Manly and running up North Head became more challenging.
I started to get really really puffed and couldnt understand why my chest was getting really tight.
Shed known since her 40s that she had an aortic murmur an issue picked up by her GP during a routine check-up. It possibly stemmed from childhood, she says.
Nobody really knows whether I had rheumatic fever or not. I remember as a kid having lots and lots of really bad sore throats but we were tough little kids and we were healthy kids, and I used to jump out of my bedroom window and run out with the other kids up the farm and play in the creeks with these dreadful dreadful sore throats. But I wasnt going to miss out, you know.
Though normally optimistic, Ruth struggled with depression following the second surgery and had to fight against it.
But taking into account the accompanying occlusion in her coronary arteries, she decided it was time. In 2013, she went to Waikato Hospital and had an aortic valve replacement and had a single bypass to that artery.
Breezed through surgery
The emotional toll
Be prepared for the stages of recovery
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.
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Whats Normal And Whats Not
A certain amount of discomfort is normal after any surgery. Your doctor can provide you with information about what you may experience as part of your recovery.
You should begin to feel like youre starting to get back to normal after about eight or 10 weeks of recovery. If youre still experiencing shortness of breath or significant pain in your incision at that point, talk to your doctor.
Also, watch for warning signs that might mean you need immediate medical attention. Redness or drainage resembling pus in your chest area may signal infection, for example. Abnormal pain is also a red flag.
While you will have good days and bad days, if you feel like you are sliding backward more than a couple of days in a row, dont hesitate to call! Your care team would rather hear from you early if there is any question about a problem with your recovery.
Contact your doctor if you have questions or concerns about what you experience during your recovery. Making sure youre well-informed helps you avoid problems and speeds your recovery as much as possible.
You May Feel Like Youre On An Emotional Roller Coaster
Recovering from open-heart surgery involves physical and emotional healing. The recovery process uses emotional and physical energy.
If you feel upset or emotional in the weeks after your operation, dont worry this is a normal reaction. Many patients report these feelings up to three months after the operation:
Mood swings that may include depression, fear, anxiety, loneliness, helplessness and anger
Crying easily for no apparent reason
Lack of energy or motivation
Getting easily frustrated
Having good days and bad days
Feeling more emotional or sentimental than normal
Even though you may feel drained physically and emotionally, its important to follow guidelines for good self-care:
Get dressed every day
Walk daily within your limits
Get plenty of rest
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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 Is The Recovery Time For Heart Valve Replacement Surgery
Heart valve replacement is a type of open-heart surgery/operation. This implies that surgeons open the heart and chest of patient to remove the damaged valve. Later on, they sew the new prosthetic or artificial valve in its place. In some of the cases, surgeons perform the task of valve replacement without opening the patients chest referred mainly as minimally invasive surgery. In this case, the doctors make a small incision to replace the damaged valve nearby the breastbone or beneath the right chest muscle.
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What To Expect After Vascular Bypass Surgery In The Leg
There is no typical PAD patient, so its difficult to predict vascular bypass surgery leg recovery time. This is what I consider a normal recovery period.
- One to three days in the hospital intensive care unit before transfer to a regular hospital room. Many patients dont even need time in the ICU and go straight from the recovery room to a regular hospital room.
- Hospital stay for up to one week. Most patients go home much sooner.
- A complete recovery after eight weeks.
Since this is leg surgery, its important to walk as soon as the effects of anesthesia have worn off. Walking helps ensure proper blood flow and reduces swelling, which helps the incision heal.
Obviously, complications can cause a longer recovery time. The most common cause is longer healing times for patients who had longer incisions. Usually, this is treatable with proper wound draining and care at home and taking antibiotics. A small number may bleed excessively, which can require additional procedures and delay release from the hospital.
Full recovery can take six to eight weeks. During this time, patients are instructed on how often to walk each day and for how long.
Most patients can expect a complete recovery by eight weeks. Patients should be monitored for about two years following leg bypass surgery to make sure there are no new blockages.
Days And Weeks Following The Heart Surgery
During the phase consists of days and weeks following the heart surgery, people usually expect to regain their energy gradually and return to the regular activity levels. Although, the surgeons and cardiologists recommend the necessary medications and care tips to assure the fastest possible recovery of patients support from family members and friends act as the prime key to faster recovery in them.
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What Should People Expect Before The Surgery
Before heart bypass surgery, people should:
- refrain from taking any drugs containing aspirin for 3 days before the surgery
- stop smoking immediately, as smoking creates mucus in the lungs that can interfere with recovery
- arrange for someone to stay with them after returning home
- avoid eating or drinking after midnight on the night before surgery
- follow any other instructions provided by the doctor or care team
Some people might want to donate their own blood beforehand for use during the surgery.
A person undergoing a planned heart bypass operation will have an opportunity to discuss the procedure with their doctor before the operation. The care team will explain the surgery, set up arrival times, and help complete paperwork.
Many people may undergo tests before the surgery including an electrocardiogram , chest X-ray, and blood tests.
Before the operation, nurses insert a needle into the personâs arm. The IV will allow fluids and medicines to enter the body as needed.
A member of the healthcare team might also shave the areas where a surgeon will make their incisions.
Immediately before the surgery, the doctors provide medicine that causes a deep sleep until after the operation.
Although times can vary, heart bypass surgery usually lasts between 3 and 6 hours.
Caring For Your Wound
The metal wires holding your breastbone together are permanent.
But the stitches closing your skin will gradually dissolve over the weeks following surgery as your skin heals.
While you’re recovering in hospital, you’ll be told about how to care for your wounds at home.
It’s important to keep the wounds clean and protect them from the sun while they’re healing.
You’ll have a scar where the surgeon cut down your chest, as well as where the grafted blood vessel was taken from.
These will be red at first, but will gradually fade over time.
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Average Recovery Time For Open Heart Surgery
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How Painful Is Open Heart Surgery
Some discomfort around the cut and in your muscles including itching, tightness, and numbness along the incision are normal. But it shouldnt hurt as much as it did before your surgery. If you had a bypass, your legs may hurt more than your chest if the surgeon used leg veins as grafts.
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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:
- 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.
Remember To Move Carefully
- Rapid change of position may be accompanied by dizziness if done to quickly.
- Rest whenever you get tired.
- Rest between activities. If you need to rest for more than one hour after an activity, you may be pushing yourself too hard. Do a little less the next day.
- Avoid placing undue strain on your chest region by sitting in one position for long periods of time.
- When sitting or standing, use your leg musclesdo not use your arms to lower or raise yourself from your chair.
- Do not cross your legsit interferes with blood flow.
- Pace yourself.
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Breathing And Coughing Exercises
You will have some fluid in your lungs after the breathing tube is removed. If this fluid collects in your lungs, you could develop pneumonia. To prevent pneumonia, a respiratory therapist or nurse will help you learn deep breathing and coughing exercises. Do these exercises as you are told to. Holding a pillow tightly to your chest when you do your coughing exercises also helps. For breathing exercises, you may use a device called an incentive spirometer. Using this device helps your lungs recover. There might be phlegm or secretions in your throat, especially if you smoke. It can sometimes be difficult to get the phlegm or secretions out of your throat, but it is very important to do so. Your healthcare team may give you breathing treatments containing special medicine to help you get rid of the phlegm.
Give Your Heart Time To Heal
Its important to remember that not everyone heals at the same rate. Health conditions such as diabetes or if you are on steroids can increase the time it takes your body to heal after surgery. Complete recovery takes about three to six months.
At any phase in your recovery, using common sense is the best way to keep yourself from overdoing it, Dr. Tong says.
If an activity causes pressure or pain, stop. If your sternum doesnt heal properly after surgery, it can cause you a lot of pain and complicate the healing process.
If you arent sure an activity is safe, check with your surgeon first. Contact your doctor right away if you experience:
- Redness on your chest larger than a quarter or drainage that resembles pus .
- A clicking noise in your chest when you cough or breathe deeply .
- Abnormal pain.
Overall, give yourself time to heal, while gradually doing a little more each week. Continue to work with your doctor until youre up to speed on your normal activities.
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Reasons To Call Your Doctor
If you feel any of these symptoms, report them to your doctor or nurse:
- Palpitations or a heart rate greater than 120 beats per minute when you are at rest, or a change from a regular to an irregular pulse.
- Increased fatigue or shortness of breath at rest.
- Temperature greater than 101 degrees more than one time, or chills for 24 hours.
- Excessive redness, swelling, soreness or drainage from any wound site.
- Swelling in your ankles and hands with a weight gain of two or more pounds in one day or five pounds in one week.
- Abnormal pain or other symptoms that do not go away with your medication.
- Pain in the calf of your leg.
How Long Does It Take To Recover From Heart Bypass Surgery
Heart bypass surgery is the most common type of heart surgery performed on adults. Doctors recommend heart bypass surgery when one or more of the blood vessels that transport blood to the heart muscles become partially blocked.
Heart bypass surgery is a complicated procedure that involves a significant amount of preparation and recovery time. Occasionally, someone must undergo emergency heart bypass surgery, but most of the time the operation is planned.
Heart bypass surgery is a relatively safe and effective procedure that reduces the risk of heart attack and death. The procedure might also ease symptoms of coronary artery disease, such as chest pain.
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.
Impacts For Vascular Surgery Legs Recovery Time
Vascular bypass is performed on different parts of the leg, which in turn determines the length of the time surgery will take and the type of anesthesia used. The arteries targeted for bypass are in the hip, thigh, behind the knee, and the lower leg.
Most patients with PAD in the legs have already had at least one angioplasty, usually with stents or balloons, to try to open blocked veins and arteries. A bypass is usually required when the vein or artery can no longer remain open even with stents.
Recovery time for vascular surgery in the leg depends on factors that include overall patient health and the kind of anesthesia used. Some patients cannot tolerate certain kinds of general anesthesia, which reduces the choices available to the surgical team.
Surgeons can opt to use epidural or spinal anesthesia in bypass surgery in the lower leg. An anesthesiologist injects medicine into the spine to numb the patient from the waist down. It also allows for a faster recovery time than general anesthesia, in which the patient is fully unconscious.
Legs Vascular Bypass Surgery Recovery Time
Leg vascular bypass surgery, also called peripheral artery bypass surgery, is performed in people with peripheral artery disease in their legs. It reroutes blood flow from a damaged or diseased artery by inserting an artificial graft or a vein from the other leg.
This is an inpatient procedure. Most patients can go home within a few days to a week.