Each patient reacts differently to a surgery. Thus, the recovery is different after each surgery, whether it is an aortocoronary bypass of narrowed or blocked arteries (CABG-BYPASS) or repair/replacement of a narrow valve. In spite of these differences, some things can be generalized.
After a heart surgery, and sometimes even before the procedure, patients and their families often ask questions about a later recovery. The answers to the most common questions are as follows.
Remember: If your doctor’s instructions are in any way different from the ones listed below, always follow the instructions of your doctor.
IT IS ABSOLUTELY NORMAL:
While in the hospital, follow the doctor’s instructions. After releasing the wound can be washed with a mild soap and warm water daily.
Avoid strong rubbing of cutting location.
Keep in mind that cuts can easily burn in the sun. Protect cuts from excessive exposure to the sun during the first year after surgery. The scar will pigment more (become darker) if exposed to the sun. Do not put any lotions, creams, oils and powders on the cuts, unless the cardiac surgeon says otherwise.
Check the wound every day.
Tell your doctor if you notice any of the following:
LEG WOUND CARE
If a vein from a leg is used in aortocoronary bypassing, follow these instructions:
FOREARM WOUND CARE
If an artery from left or right forearm is used in myocardial revascularisation, treat a wound as mentioned above. In some patients, occasional feelings of frisson or quiver may occur in the area of the thumb or palm. These problems are not troublesome and are transient.
Before releasing home, you will receive a release letter with a list of medicines you need to take and medicines for the first few days. Take medicines exactly as prescribed.
Always carry with you a list of medicines you are currently taking, the dose and time you need to take them. Do not take other medicines without a doctor’s knowledge.
You will receive further information on medicines from a nurse or a doctor before release.
It’s important to understand that medicines can cause side effects. If you have any of the following side effects of medicines, you should contact your doctor:
Stop immediately with any activity if you feel breathless, notice irregular heartbeats, feel weakness or dizziness, or have chest pains.
Take a break until the symptoms disappear.
If they do not disappear within 20 minutes, inform your doctor.
You can take a shower after wires of a temporary heart electrostimulator have been removed. Avoid soaking in a bath until the wounds have healed. Avoid hot water.
Recovery needs balanced rest and exercises. Plan a break between activities and, if necessary, a little sleep. Resting also includes a quiet seating for 20-30 minutes. Relax at least 30 minutes after eating, and before exercise.
Limit visits during the first few weeks. If you are tired, apologize and lie down. Your visitors will understand.
This is one of the best ways to exercise because it improves circulation of the whole body and heart muscle. It’s important to gradually increase your activity. Walk at a speed that suits you. Stop and relax if you feel tired. Each person is recovering at a different pace after heart surgery. Do not try too many things at once. In the cold weather, wear a scarf or mask around the mouth and nose.
You can freely go up stairs, unless your doctor tells you differently. Take them with small steps. Stop and relax if you feel tired. If you use a grip, do not pull yourself up using hands. Use your feet.
As a passenger in a car, you can drive at any time. Avoid driving a car, bicycle or motor 6 weeks after surgery. This period of time is recommended in order for the chest bone to heal. When traveling, exit every 2 hours from the car and walk for a few minutes.
You should not strain chest bone too much while healing. Avoid lifting, pushing or pulling anything heavier than 5 kilograms for 6 weeks after surgery. This includes carrying children, groceries, luggage, mowing, sucking and moving furniture. Do not hold your breath during activity, especially when you lift something.
Weigh yourself each morning at the same time after urination, but before breakfast. Use the same scales every day.
Keep a record of daily weight.
Notify your doctor in case of gain 1 kg or more overnight.
When do you continue with usual activities?
After 6 weeks:
After 3 months: