The heart is a muscular organ that pumps oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to our organs and tissues and removes deoxygenated blood. Together with blood vessels (veins, arteries and veins) and blood, the heart makes up the body’s circulatory system.
Any abnormality in the functioning of the heart can disrupt our entire system. Health care providers may recommend different treatment modalities, such as dietary management, exercises, medications, and surgical repair.
Whenever we hear about heart surgery, our minds automatically wander to open bypass heart surgery. But it is not just a surgical procedure that one can undergo. Numerous invasive and non-invasive procedures are available to treat a variety of cardiovascular diseases and conditions.
The following are some common heart or heart surgeries:
- Coronary bypass surgery (CABG).
- Heart valve repair or replacement
- Aneurysm repair
- Placement of a pacemaker or an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD)
- Insertion of ventricular assist device (VAD)
- open heart surgery
- Minimally invasive cardiac surgery
- Robot-assisted cardiac surgery
- Various cardiac procedures, such as cardiac catheterization and angiography
The health care providers prescribe dietary guidelines, physical work, and care at the surgical site after whatever heart procedures or surgeries you’ve had.
What Are the Postoperative Instructions for Cardiac Surgery?
Heart surgery can be a stressful experience, so if you’re up for it, you’re probably wondering how you’ll recover from heart surgery and what your life will be like afterward. Since everyone faces different healing experiences or postoperative complications, here are some general guidelines for recovering from major heart surgery at home:
- Check your heart rate and blood pressure daily:
You can ask your healthcare provider to check your pulse and blood pressure by checking devices at home. You should notify your doctor if you notice any fluctuations from the normal range.
- Take your prescribed medicines on time:
Your doctor may prescribe some additional new medications and change the dosage of old medications before you are discharged from the hospital. Listen carefully and you can ask your supervisor to pass on and follow all medication instructions.
Keep your wound dry and clean. If you notice any sign of infection, such as an increase in pain, redness, discharge, fever, or opening of an incision, contact your healthcare provider immediately. Most wound infections develop within 14 days of surgery.
A sSudden weight gain after surgery can be a sign of fluid retention, which may indicate functional insufficiency of your heart or kidneys. Therefore, keep an eye on your weight and inform your doctor at the follow-up appointments.
- Maintain follow-up appointments:
Your doctor will need to monitor your heart condition after surgery, so attend these follow-up appointments after surgery. At these appointments, your healthcare provider may perform various tests, remove stitches, and review your medications. You can also bring a questionnaire, your symptoms list and your pulse or blood pressure measurement list to the appointment.
Your healthcare provider may suggest some tips for a better recovery, such as:
- Avoid lifting heavy weights for at least 6-8 weeks after heart surgery.
- Your healthcare provider can impose a driving ban on you for at least four weeks.
- For the next four weeks, avoid any activity that requires you to push, pull, or lift weights over five pounds.
- Avoid activities that cause extreme shoulder movement, such as golf, baseball, tennis, and swimming.
- Gradually return to your routine:
Gradually resume your daily lifestyle, such as eating a healthy diet, doing light exercise, reducing your stress levels, and getting enough sleep, which can improve your heart health.
- Participate in the cardiac rehabilitation program:
Your medical specialist may recommend a cardiac rehabilitation program 2-4 weeks after surgery. This program helps you improve your health and recover from heart surgery. Cardiac rehabilitation includes planning appropriate exercise, emotional support, and lifestyle modifications to reduce the risks of heart disease.
- Recognize warning signs and symptoms and respond accordingly:
During recovery, contact your specialist doctor immediately if you feel chest pain, shortness of breath, headache, nausea, vomiting or pain in the jaw, neck, shoulder or arm.
The recovery process after heart surgery can be slow, but you need to allow your body to heal properly. Don’t overdo it and stop if you feel tired or experience pain or pressure during an activity. The risk of injury or postoperative complications increases when you push yourself too hard.