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What To Expect After Open Heart Surgery

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Open Heart Surgery: What to Expect (English CC)

A team of physicians and nurses will advise patients on what medications to take during recovery and also on what physical activity can be done. Its normal to feel tiredness and some pain. Each patients recovery time varies but you can expect it to take many weeks or months to return to previous levels of activity. Seek care and advise your medical team of any potentially serious symptoms of infection which include difficulty breathing, a fever, and excessive sweating.

Aftercare can also include blood tests, heart scans and regular stress tests which monitor the heart during treadmill exercises.

Wound Care During The Recovery Period Following Bypass Surgery

The patient should take care of the wound during the recovery period after bypass surgery as there are metal wires that hold your breastbone which is also known as sternum together which are permanent. Skin will be healed as the stiches will slowly dissolve as the weeks pass by after the bypass surgery. You will be taught to take care of your bypass surgery wound for better recovery while you are still in the hospital. Healing the wound requires cleanliness and protection from sun. The area where the incision was done on your chest will be red and scar at first. Also the area from where the blood vessel was taken will be all red but gradually it will fade with time.

Surgery To Place Ventricular Assist Devices Or Total Artificial Hearts

A VAD is a mechanical pump that is used to support heart function and blood flow in people who have weak hearts.

Your doctor may recommend a VAD if you have heart failure that isn’t responding to treatment or if you’re waiting for a heart transplant. You can use a VAD for a short time or for months or years, depending on your situation.

A TAH is a device that replaces the two lower chambers of the heart . You may benefit from a TAH if both of your ventricles don’t work well due to end-stage heart failure.

Placing either device requires open-heart surgery.

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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.

When To Call The Doctor

What To Expect After Open Heart Surgery?
  • 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 .

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A Comfortable Place To Recover

Your healing can depend on you being active, but when setting up your home, have your goals be comfort and convenience. Move furniture around, in advance, so it is easier for you to get around your house. Moving from your bed to the bathroom to the kitchen to the living room should not require navigating an obstacle course.

You may have some dizziness during the first few weeks of recovery from your heart valve surgery, so try to have things you can hold onto when you walk through the house. A chair placed here and there will break up long stretches of open space, and will provide you a place to rest if feeling dizzy. The National Library of Medicine suggests you have someone stay with you for the first two weeks of recovery in case you do need assistance.

For a few weeks following cardiac surgery, you may have some discomfort in your chest or ribs. In the hospital, it was likely you receive a big red pillow or towel to hold against your chest when you cough or sneeze. Whenever you are in your house, have a pillow or towel handy in case a cough sneaks up on you.

The Big Red Patient Pillows

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.

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What Affects Recovery Time After Heart Surgery

If youre planning elective heart surgery, ask your doctor if there are steps you may take beforehand to improve your health. These efforts may help shorten your recovery time.

With any heart surgery, some factors are in our control, and some less so. These include:

  • Your overall health. One of the biggest predictors for how long your recovery takes is how healthy you are as you go into the surgery. Someone whos been sick for a long time prior to heart surgery will take a longer time to recover than someone who is in relatively good health.
  • Whether you smoke or are overweight. If smoking or excess weight are problems for you, do everything you can to work on these issues before surgery.
  • Type of surgery. Your recovery begins as soon as the surgery is over. Depending on the type of surgery , you may stay in the intensive care unit for several days. Youll likely then follow up with several days in another part of the hospital. During this time, youll begin getting out of bed and increasing your activity level a little each day.

Whats Normal And Whats Not

What to Expect – Open Heart Surgery

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.

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Be Patient With Your Recovery

You should receive discharge instructions from your doctor when you leave the hospital, but it helps to be mentally prepared for a recovery time of several weeks or months, notes WebMD. This may vary depending on your health prior to the surgery, any complications that happened while in the hospital, and your motivation to follow instructions when you get home.

Heres What To Expect After Open Heart Surgery

About 2,300 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day according to the American Heart Association. Most heart diseases can be prevented when you know the risk factors and a healthy lifestyle is in place.

You may know someone who has undergone heart surgery or is getting ready to have the operation. Do you know whats involved with caring for a senior following heart surgery? This blog tells you what to expect including how long it takes to fully recover and what is the most common complication after open heart surgery.

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What Is Heart Surgery

Heart surgery is done to correct problems with the heart. Many heart surgeries are done each year in the United States for various heart problems.

Heart surgery is used for both children and adults. This article discusses heart surgery for adults. For more information about heart surgery for children, go to the Health Topics articles about congenital heart defects, holes in the heart, and tetralogy of Fallot.

It Takes A Year To Recover From Heart Surgery

Day 10 After Open Heart Surgery

The year that follows after heart surgery will consist of rebuilding your chest and back muscles that will be weak from your limited activity during the recovery months. Remember that your bone is knit together but in order to rebuild your strength and allow your nerves to heal, it will take a full year. It is common to feel pressure, pain, or a burning sensation in your chest, especially near the incision during your cardiac rehabilitation stages. Be sure to consult your physician if youre experiencing discomfort and it will be determined if further testing is needed.

Research has demonstrated that patients who elect to have monitored exercises by a medical professional along with nutritional and psychological counseling are more likely to survive longer than five years than those who dont partake in cardiac rehab.

About the Author

Giovanni B. Ciuffo, MD Director is an expert in Minimally Invasive Heart Surgery and Bloodless Heart Surgery is the outcome of his commitment to the development and improvement of both of these techniques. He runs a Cardiothoracic Surgery practice and manages Minimally Invasive and Bloodless Heart Surgery Program where he cares for patients from all over the country and locally. to learn more about Dr. Ciuffo.

Board Certified:

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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.

Hand Sanitizer And Antibacterial Soap

It is nearly impossible to wash your hands too much when you are recovering from surgery. Frequent use of hand sanitizer, as well as proper handwashing technique, can prevent infection.

Keeping your hands clean, and never touching your incision without first sanitizing or washing your hands, can prevent infection.

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Minimally Invasive Heart Surgery

For minimally invasive heart surgery, a surgeon makes small incisions in the side of the chest between the ribs. This type of surgery may or may not use a heart-lung bypass machine.

Minimally invasive heart surgery is used to do some bypass and maze surgeries. It’s also used to repair or replace heart valves, insert pacemakers or ICDs, or take a vein or artery from the body to use as a bypass graft for CABG.

One type of minimally invasive heart surgery that is becoming more common is robotic-assisted surgery. For this surgery, a surgeon uses a computer to control surgical tools on thin robotic arms.

The tools are inserted through small incisions in the chest. This allows the surgeon to do complex and highly precise surgery. The surgeon always is in total control of the robotic arms they don’t move on their own.

How To Prepare For Open Heart Surgery

What to Expect-Open Heart surgery

Leading up to open heart surgery, it’s recommended that patients take a few pre-operative measures to ensure their recovery time is comfortable and safe. A few tips include:

  • Stop smoking and drinking at least 2 weeks prior to surgery
  • Eat a healthy, nutrient diet and maintain activity levels at your doctor’s discretion
  • Get a list of friends and family members who will be available to help out during your recovery period
  • Stock up on comfortable clothing and recovery garments to wear during recovery
  • Have healthy meals lined up while you heal so you don’t have to cook. Or ask some helpful friends to stop by and have a meal with you!
  • Find some shows, movies, and books that you’re excited to catch up on to keep you entertained during your recovery

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Post Heart Surgery Diet: Foods To Eat And Foods To Avoid

After having open heart surgery its extremely important to eat the right foods so that you can give your body the nutrients it needs to recover. But what foods are best for recovering heart surgery patients? Theres a lot of confusion over what you should and shouldnt be eating after your surgery, so lets take a look at the most important foods to avoid and the best foods to include in your post surgery diet.

1. Avoid saturated fats and processed foods.

Processed and sugary foods are definitely on the list of foods to avoid. Not only do they lack any health benefits whatsoever, they also contain harmful trans fats and other things like high fructose corn syrup that contribute to obesity, which can put further strain on your heart. Try to keep the fat content of your diet to less than 30% of your daily caloric intake.

2. Reduce your sodium intake.

Cardiovascular patients should consume no more than 2,000 milligrams of salt per day to avoid excess fluid retention in the body, which causes an increase in the stress on the heart. Depending on your situation, your heart surgeon may recommend that you go even lower. The good news is that if you stop eating processed foods youll be cutting the primary source of sodium in most peoples diet, so limiting your sodium intake should not be too difficult if you are following step 1.

3. Include heart healthy foods in your diet.

  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Leafy greens
  • Poultry
  • Nuts
  • Low fat dairy products

How Long Is A Person Expected To Live After A Bypass Operation

The life expectancy after coronary bypass surgery depends again on the individuals risk factors. And most importantly, on the ventricular function, how well the muscle of the heart works. If the tissue in the centre works well, the life expectancy can be approximately what the healthy population is whove never had a heart attack. On the other hand, people with advanced left ventricular dysfunction that means, whove had significant damage to the main pumping chamber of the heart their life expectancy is more limited.

Lets summarise the article so far. If a patient has a LIMA bypass, it is almost 90% likely to remain open, even ten years after the operation, and that is just great. For the other blockages where an SVG graft is used, the bypasses are about 50% likely to remain open at ten years. If grafts go down its not necessarily a disaster, there are often good treatment options.

Remember that the bypass was done to treat coronary artery disease, but thats only half the battle. The same disease process still goes on despite the bypass, and so the emphasis in these patients should be on treatments that can act to stabilise the heart disease. These treatments include medications, blood pressure control, cholesterol management, avoiding smoke, exercise, diet, and the adoption of a healthy lifestyle. Now, these are the truly life-saving measures.

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Cardiac Rehabilitation During Bypass Surgery Recovery Period

The bypass surgery recovery period may include Cardiac Rehabilitation program if only prescribed by your physician. One can start off with his or her cardiac rehab while one is still in the hospital and continue it after getting discharged. What is cardiac rehab? Cardiac rehab is a type of exercise program that will help you increase the level of your physical activity under the supervision of professional who have exceled in it. The cardiac rehab management during bypass surgery recovery period also has dieticians, therapists, psychologists, and other health care providers who are going to aid you in bypass surgery recovery period. The whole cardiac rehab program will make you feel confident about adopting a healthy lifestyle.

  • Quality of life.

From Hospital Discharge To 6 Weeks

What Should I Expect After Heart Surgery

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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