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After Cardiac Surgery

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Following heart surgery, you will need to recover in the Intensive Care Unit, possibly for a few days, before moving to a regular hospital room. After most heart surgery, you will be breathing through a tube in your throat at first. Other tubes will drain fluid from your chest, drain urine from your bladder, and deliver fluid, blood, and medication through your veins.

As soon as possible, you will need to get moving to improve your muscle strength, blood flow, and resistance to illness. When it's time to return home, you will be armed with information about medications, nutritional guidelines, your rehabilitation program, and how to recover safely at home.

Once at home, you will likely need 6-8 weeks to heal before resuming your normal routine.

Bypass patients whose saphenous vein was removed may experience swelling and bruising in the leg.

Valve surgery patients usually need to take anticoagulant medication, either for a few weeks or on a permanent basis, in order to prevent blood clots from forming around the new valve.

It is common for patients to feel depressed while recovering from major surgery. You may feel frustrated, have difficulty concentrating, lose your appetite or have trouble sleeping. It can help to remember that these problems are temporary.

Lifestyle

Heart surgery is not a cure for heart disease. Your long term health following surgery depends on your making healthy choices regarding the following risk factors:

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Stress

Eating right, staying active, controlling stress, and stopping smoking are important steps to maintaining your health.

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