What can I Expect During Heart Surgery Recovery?

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  • Written By: Patti Kate
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 22 August 2019
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Heart surgery recovery can be influenced by several factors. The extent of your heart surgery, as well as your age, may have some bearing on what you might expect. Post-operative care may also include special diet requirements and physical activity restrictions. Complications can delay your heart surgery recovery process.

There are many types of heart surgery, each of which will require different types of recovery care. For heart defects or heart repair surgery, recovery might differ somewhat from a minimally invasive surgical procedure. Your cardiologist will give you specific instructions regarding care you will require, as well as your limitations. He will most likely want to re-examine you after a specified time, generally within the next week.

During the initial post-operative care phase, and after you've been released from the hospital, it might be a good idea to have someone help care for you during heart surgery recovery. If your surgery was extensive, you'll require more rest. It's a good idea to have medications and other items you may need often nearby, preferably on a table by your bedside or couch.


You can expect to be given instructions on how to care for the incision during your heart surgery recovery. You'll be told how often to change the dressing and what types of medical bandages and supplies you will need. Most likely, your doctor will tell you not to use anything other than a mild soap and water to clean the incision site. Also, your physician may recommend a nutritional supplement or vitamins. Eating nutritional foods will help you recover your strength.

If your surgeon has prescribed painkillers or other medications to prevent infection, follow the instructions carefully. If you have questions, contact your doctor or pharmacist. If any medications you have taken cause some type of reaction, notify your medical care provider immediately.

Your surgeon or physician will most likely tell you to be aware of any signs of infection from the surgical site. This is a crucial step in monitoring changes during heart surgery recovery. If you have been given a post-operative care sheet, it should list signs of infection. Notify your doctor immediately if you exhibit any of the symptoms listed.

Daily activities will be resumed gradually, depending upon your type of surgery. Your physician will let you know when it's feasible to return to work or drive your car. It's important to follow his advice and not rush into any physical activity that has not been advised. In most cases, the surgeon may recommend some light daily exercise, such as walking for short periods of time.

Some patients may benefit from participating in some type of cardiac physical therapy program. Your doctor may recommend rehabilitation to help you recover faster. Your insurance policy may cover the expense of rehabilitation, but you should check with your provider to learn the specifics of your particular policy.



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