Coronary artery bypass grafting, also referred to as CABG, is a surgical procedure designed to restore proper blood flow to the heart and involves a quite lengthy recovery process, often up to several months. CABG recovery begins in the hospital following the procedure and continues at home for several weeks after the surgery. It is important to get plenty of rest and take all medications exactly as prescribed by a doctor during recovery. In order to reduce the potential risks of complications, lifestyle modifications are a necessary part of CABG recovery. Any questions or concerns about the recovery process or individualized limitations should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.
Due to the potentially life-threatening complications that can occur after the procedure, the first few days of CABG recovery occur in a hospital setting. The first few days are normally spent in the intensive care unit so that the patient can be constantly monitored. The patient is then moved into a regular hospital room for a few more days before being released to go home.
Getting proper amounts of rest and adhering closely to physical limitations and lifestyle modifications as instructed by the medical team are important during CABG recovery. Patients who have undergone this procedure are typically instructed not to drive or perform any strenuous physical activity for several weeks after the surgery. Even light lifting could cause major complications, such as internal bleeding. Sexual activity should not resume until medically cleared by a doctor.
Exercise is a vital part of CABG recovery, although care should be taken so that the heart does not have to work too hard. Walking is the preferred method of exercise during the healing process. If blood vessels were taken from the leg for the graft, walking may be uncomfortable, but it is a necessary part of recovery. Those who smoke are instructed to stop smoking, and preexisting medical conditions, such as diabetes, should be carefully managed.
Prescription medications are often needed during CABG recovery. These medications may include antibiotics, pain relievers, or medications to promote proper heart functioning. Special creams or ointments may be prescribed for the surgical incision in order to help the wound heal and prevent infection. All medications should be taken exactly as prescribed, and the patient should keep all scheduled follow-up appointments. Some doctors will place the patient in a cardiac rehabilitation program for individualized assistance on proper wound care, exercise methods, and lifestyle modification.