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What Is The Recovery Time For Open Heart Surgery

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What About Minimally Invasive Heart Surgery

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

In minimally invasive heart surgery, your surgeon will make one or more small incisions between your ribs. Then, surgical instrumentsalong with a tiny cameraare inserted through the incision. The surgical tools are connected to robotic arms that the surgeon controls with a computerized device. This allows him or her to better manipulate the instruments and perform the procedure more precisely.

Minimally invasive heart surgery can be used for several different cardiac procedures, including:

  • Coronary bypass
  • Valve surgery
  • Aneurysm repair

Because it involves a smaller incision, minimally invasive heart surgery can have a number of benefits for patients. These include:

  • Less pain
  • Shorter hospital stays after surgery
  • Lower risk of infection and bleeding
  • Shorter recovery time

People who undergo minimally invasive heart surgery usually return home two to five days after the procedure. In general, it takes between one and four weeks to recover from this form of surgery.

Your surgeon will factor in your age, medical history, general health, and specific heart concerns to decide which type of surgery is best for you.

To learn more about open heart and minimally invasive heart surgery treatment options, visit the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute website or contact us at 1-855-UPMC-HVI .

Things No One Warns You About After Open

Like any surgery, before you go in for open-heart surgery they mostly warn you about the risks of surgery. They discuss what could happen during the surgery, things that could go wrong, and anything specific to the type of heart surgery you are having. They speak of recovery time in general terms. I was born with a congenital heart defect called transposition of the great arteries. I still have a mustard procedure in place. After three open-heart surgeries, I have to say they are many things that I wish they wouldve warned me about during my surgeries.

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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When Can The Patient Start With Regular Exercise Routine After The Surgery

Regular exercise routine should be started after around 10 weeks of the surgery. Once the patient advances in the cardiac rehabilitation program, the heart becomes stronger to keep up and endure with the cardio. The patient can start enjoying jogging, golf, and even tennis if the patient wishes to do so. No matter what exercise, but it is recommended that the patient should indulge in any form of it for at least 30 minutes, five times a week. This keeps the patients heart healthy and under control and also provides the required rest.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc.This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimerLast Modified On: September 27, 2018

From Hospital Discharge To 6 Weeks

Heart surgery shuns rib

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:

  • Walking.
  • 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.

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What Is Open Heart Surgery

Technically, open heart surgery refers to any surgical cardiac procedure in which the chest is surgically opened. This approach can be used to correct problems in the:

  • Heart muscle
  • Valves
  • Other related structures

The heart itself may or may not be opened during this form of surgery. In traditional open heart surgery, the heart is actually stopped and a machine does its work while the surgeon performs the procedure.

This type of surgery requires a 6- to 8-inch incision in the chest and may involve temporary placement of a pacemaker to help regulate your heartbeat. Youll likely remain in the hospital for four to eight days after open heart surgery, and it may take at least five to eight weeks for you to recover.

Although every case is individual, open heart surgery is best for people who need multiple coronary artery bypass procedures, complex aortic procedures and complicated cardiac operations, or people who have had heart surgery in the past.

How To Prepare For Open

Tell your doctor about any drugs you are taking, even over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and herbs. Inform them of any illnesses you have, including herpes outbreak, cold, flu, or fever.

In the two weeks before the surgery, your doctor may ask you to quit smoking and stop taking blood-thinning medications, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen.

Its important to talk to your doctor about your alcohol consumption before you prepare for the surgery. If you typically have three or more drinks a day and stop right before you go into surgery, you may go into alcohol withdrawal. This may cause life-threatening complications after open-heart surgery, including seizures or tremors. Your doctor can help you with alcohol withdrawal to reduce the likelihood of these complications.

The day before the surgery, you may be asked to wash yourself with a special soap. This soap is used to kill bacteria on your skin and will lessen the chance of an infection after surgery. You may also be asked not to eat or drink anything after midnight.

Your healthcare provider will give you more detailed instructions when you arrive at the hospital for surgery.

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Your Personality And Mood May Change After Open

After open-heart surgery, many people experience personality and mood changes. The most commonly experienced emotions are depression, fatigue and anxiety. These can be caused by being on bypass, anesthesia, or medication such as oxycontin. You may experience mood swings like crying or getting angry or easily frustrated.

I mostly experienced this after my second open heart surgery when I was a teenager and my third open-heart surgery. After both of them, I experienced depression, anxiety and PTSD. Before my second open heart surgery, I was more outgoing but afterward, my personality changed and I was quieter and self-reflective. I struggled with suicidal thoughts and mood swings. After my most recent surgery, I finally got the therapy I needed after years of not seeking help. If you are struggling, please find help, be open with your doctor and make sure you have someone to talk to.

Preparing For Open Heart Surgery

Day 7 recovery from open heart surgery to replace aortic val

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:

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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.

Care Of Your Incisions

As you heal, your incision will look better and the soreness will go away. Changes in the weather, too much or too little activity and sleeping in one position too long may cause increased soreness. You may also feel numbness or itching or see redness or swelling, which will also stop with time. To care for your incisions, we suggest:

  • Wash gently with mild soap during your daily shower. Dry carefully with a towel. Pat it dry Do not rub the incision.
  • If you have small pieces of white tape over your incision, you must remove them after you have been home for seven days. If the strips come off on their own, you may leave them off.
  • If your incisions are puffy, have areas of redness, are oozing, or begin to open slightly, call your surgeon.
  • Women should wear a bra. A good support bra will reduce the tension placed on the incision. If the bra bothers you, you may put a small piece of gauze under the bra for added comfort.
  • For discomfort or soreness, you may use a heating pad. Apply it four or five times per day on the low setting for about 20 minutes each time. If needed, take pain medication prescribed by your doctor.

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What Happens After Open

When you wake up after surgery, you will have two or three tubes in your chest. These are to help drain fluid from the area around your heart. You may have intravenous lines in your arm to supply you with fluids, as well as a catheter in your bladder to remove urine.

You will also be attached to machines that monitor your heart. Nurses will be nearby to help you if something should arise.

You will usually spend your first night in the intensive care unit . You will then be moved to a regular care room for the next three to seven days.

Taking care of yourself at home immediately after the surgery is an essential part of your recovery.

When To Seek Medical Advice

open heart surgery recovery time

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

Call NHS 111 or contact your local out-of-hours service if you’re unable to contact your GP.

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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

Patient Realities About Open Heart Surgery Recovery Time

In creating this website and writing my book, I decided to find out if I was alone in these thoughts. That said, I ran an extensive survey. I asked hundreds patients about their recovery experience.

As I learned during this research, most heart valve surgery patients surveyed suggested that heart valve surgery recovery was “more difficult than expected”. The patients surveyed also suggested that their cardiologists and surgeons could have better prepared them for their recovery.

My research suggested that the recovery time from heart surgery has a significant range. When answering the question, “How long did it take you to return to work?”, some patients stated they felt recovered in 2 to 3 weeks. Others responsed that it took over 15 weeks to recover from heart surgery.

I also wanted to get surgeon feedback. So, at the Heart Valve Summit, I filmed this interview with Dr. David Adams, the Surgeon-in-Chief at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City, New York. It was interesting to hear Dr. Adams’ research and clinical experience as he has treated thousands of patients during his 20+ year career.

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What Is The Procedure

Doctors typically have a range of options at their disposal to fix the blockage. If left untreated, coronary artery disease can lead to heart attack and even death.

When possible, doctors may try to resolve the issue of blocked arteries with medication and less-invasive procedures, such as a stent.

If these options do not work or are not suitable for an individual, surgeons might decide to perform heart bypass surgery.

Heart bypass surgery is one of the most effective weapons against blocked arteries and the problems they cause.

The medical name for heart bypass surgery is coronary artery bypass graft .

According to the American Heart Association, CABG involves removing a blood vessel from the chest, arms, or legs and using it to create a detour or bypass around the blockage. This allows blood to reach the heart again.

Surgeons can address more than one artery in a single operation. A double bypass involves two repairs, a triple bypass involves three, and a quadruple bypass involves four. The quintuple bypass is the most intricate heart bypass surgery and includes all five of the major arteries feeding the heart.

Removing a blood vessel from another part of the body will not substantially affect blood flow in the area the vessel came from.

Reasons To Call Your Doctor

Day 6 recovery from open heart surgery to replace the aortic

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.

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Wearing Certain Types Of Clothing Might Be Hard During Surgery Recovery

Usually in discharge, they tell you to wear button-down clothing for a while, but what they dont tell you is that your skin is super sensitive and wearing tight clothing even a couple of months after might be hard. For women, wearing bras might be tough. Try to find comfortable sports bras you can unclasp or undershirts. I tend to wear bras now that dont have underwires and have a t-shirt cotton feel.

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.

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What Are The Risks

Most heart surgeries are major surgeries. Although often successful, they do entail risks. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute identifies some of these risks as:

  • Bleeding
  • Damage to tissues in the heart, kidneys, liver, and lungs
  • Stroke
  • Death, especially for someone who is already very sick before surgery

The risk is higher if you have other diseases or conditions, such as diabetes, peripheral artery disease, or kidney or lung disease.

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