Your heart operation has been completed, and you are now free to return home. You’ve been in the hospital resting, so you’ll need to continue taking care of yourself at home. Going from your daily routine to changing your habits following heart surgery may be difficult, but it is possible. Physical and emotional healing are also needed for recovery. However, there are some dos and don’ts after open heart surgery that you need to follow.
It takes 3 months to recover entirely from open heart surgery, although much of the recovery time is at home. Understanding what you can and cannot do is crucial to a successful recovery. Keep these dos and don’ts in mind for a fast and complete recovery.
Most patients will need to be in the hospital for 3 to 10 days, half of which will be in the inpatient ward and part of which will be in the intensive care unit (ICU). You will be able to walk and will be taught basic exercises for your early treatment by the time you are ready to be discharged.
Recovery takes at least 4 to 6 weeks. During this time, the patient can experience exhaustion, fatigue, discomfort in the incision site, itching, and limited arm movement. There might even be a lack of sleep. Constipation can also be a problem for the patient. Mentally, the patient can be depressed or have mood swings. The patient may need to take a lot of medications and may lose their sense of taste.
If you follow a few basic guidelines when you return home following heart surgery, you will make your recovery go more smoothly. Keep an eye out for infections, eat a balanced diet, and follow the doctor’s guidelines for returning to normal activities.
The procedure divides your breastbone (sternum), which takes three months to recover. It’s important to avoid putting too much pressure on your chest or shoulders during this period.
For at least six weeks, you must refrain from heavy lifting, pressing, and pulling; after that, you will steadily increase the volume lifted. This ensures you shouldn’t be lifting or dragging big bags or saucepans, vacuuming, digging, or mowing the grass.
As a rule of thumb, you should be able to raise half a kettle of water (or equivalent) with one arm to make tea, cook an egg, and so on. You should do light house chores, such as washing dishes and dusting if you feel up to it. As soon as you feel relaxed, you can begin light gardening activities such as pruning and weeding.
Where necessary, raise an object with both hands (to divide the load) and hold it close to the body. If you normally walk your dog on a leash, you may need to enlist the help of another person for the first six weeks.
Do not drive a car until after the surgeon’s appointment. The most common time for this office visit is four weeks after surgery. Your breast bone may be damaged in a car crash (sternum). You are permitted to travel by car. Just sit in the back seat or, if you’re in the front seat, recline it as far as possible. For warmth and to prevent discomfort, place a pillow between your chest and the seat belt. Wait before the doctor decides it’s okay to go on a long vacation. When you have permission to drive, it is important to take regular breaks to stroll and stretch your legs.
Do not return to work until the surgeon’s follow-up consultation. It would be taken into consideration the essence of your job. As a rule of thumb, you can wait:
- For light work, 8 weeks is appropriate.
- 12 weeks of intense physical activity
- Wherever possible, a phased return to work with lighter tasks or fewer hours is recommended.
Shower at least once a day. Bathing in a pool is not recommended. Avoid using really hot water because it can leave you dizzy or light-headed. When you first start showering, try to get another person around. Scrubbing the cut is not a good idea. You might want to take a little break after showering before getting dressed. This will save you from being exhausted.
You have the choice of climbing the stairs. Make sure to take it easy at first. Please take your time. Keep in mind that climbing stairs expend more energy than walking. Stop climbing if you get exhausted or out of oxygen, take a break, and then resume. The stair railing can only be used for balance. Pulling yourself up the staircase is not a good idea.
Long-haul flights should be avoided for six to eight weeks after surgery. This is since a DVT (deep vein thrombosis, also called a blood clot) is more likely to occur following surgery.
If you plan to take a vacation in the months after your surgery, keep in mind that you might have to manage yourself and pick a vacation spot with decent medical facilities in case you need them.
Many patients are concerned about resuming sexual activity after surgery. It is frequently determined by the physical and mental state. These are the recommendations that the majority of physicians agree on: You are emotionally capable of resuming sex if you can ascend two flights of stairs without being exhausted or out of oxygen.
Sexual intercourse is perceived to be rather strenuous to the heart. We know that sex is no more exhausting than 15 minutes of brisk exercise, minimal household chores, or gardening – as soon as you’re doing these activities without experiencing symptoms, you can restart sexual activity with confidence.
You can only do more moderate types of exercise for the first six weeks of your recovery, such as swimming, walking up steps, or using a mobile exercise machine. In the long run, you should be able to resume much of the sports and hobbies you used to enjoy. Before returning to or beginning all other operations, you can consult with your surgeon or wait for your examination at the cardiac recovery appraisal office.
It’s normal to feel depressed or blue after heart surgery, but these feelings may fade after a few weeks. If they don’t, speak with the doctor.
To keep the spirits high, do the following:
- Get well-dressed every day.
- Take a walk every day.
- Take up hobbies and social events that you enjoy.
- Let people know how you’re feeling.
- Get a soothing night’s sleep.
- At first, keep visits to 15 minutes. Spend more time with your visitors as you get healthier and less drained.
- Participate in a heart recovery facility or a community network.
Cardiac recovery is a program that helps patients who have had heart surgery, valve repair, transplant surgery, or other cardiac operations get back to their feet. A team of doctors, nurses, exercise physiologists, and nutritionists will guide you on a rehabilitation programme tailored to your specific needs.
Cardiac Rehabilitation has the following goals:
• To boost your quality of life by increasing your trust in exercising daily to protect your heart.
• To assist you in comprehending what coronary heart disease is and how it develops.
• To assist you with being conscious of the risk factors that could have led to your heart disease and making appropriate lifestyle improvements to alleviate them.
After your surgery, you can aim to exercise three to four hours a day. If needed, the nursing staff or physical therapy can help you with basic tasks like bed workouts and sitting at the end of the bed on the day of your surgery.
On the first day of surgery, you will be helped to sit up in a chair and, if possible, take a short stroll. You will gradually increase your operation. To keep track of your progress, you’ll be sent a task checklist.
Your nurses and doctors will tell you when it is safe for you to move on your own. Before then, always seek assistance in getting out of bed.
For 4-6 weeks after surgery, swimming is prohibited. This should be dealt with individually on a case-by-case basis.
Immediate post-operative lifting can be limited or 1 to 2 telephone books. Increase your post-operative tasks gradually. It is recommended to walk 4 to 5 times a day, increasing the amount of time you walk as expected, with a target of 1 to 2 miles a day 4 to 6 weeks after surgery. If the temperature is below 40°F or over 85°F, do not go outside. If you start to feel out of breath or dizzy, stop what you’re doing. Driving can be avoided for 4 to 6 weeks after surgery.
Medications should be maintained as directed throughout the rehabilitation period, along with routine workouts and lung physiotherapy. The patient should eat a balanced diet and get enough sleep each day. Stop smoking and chewing tobacco in every possible way, regulate diabetes and hypertension, and lose weight if you’re overweight.
After a 6-week convalescence period and a check-up with the doctor, patients should return to their daily job with caution. If your child has been discharged from the hospital, stop organized activities until the doctor has given you permission. Supporting the patient, boosting their morale, and assisting with early rehabilitation are all things that family members can do.