Ease Your Mind about Heart Surgery with These Tips for Prep and Recovery

It is understandable to be nervous, anxious or confused about a surgery. That is why the heart and vascular team at Altru takes time to meet with patients on multiple occasions prior to surgery, along with sending you home with information on how the heart works, what your disease does to the heart, information on your procedure, and the recovery process.

Preparation
A nurse will send you a letter the day before surgery explaining everything you need to know in detail. Kristyn Lafferty, LPN with Altru’s Heart & Vascular Services, said the letter and other pamphlets will include a detailed list of things to expect and instructions, such as:

  • eating and drinking restrictions before surgery
  • medications to take and when to take them
  • how to do breathing exercises
  • the amount of time you can expect to be in each prep area before your surgery

You will also meet with your surgeon the day before and the day of your surgery. This way you will have a chance to have any questions answered directly.

Recovery
Each person is unique, therefore each surgery is unique. The recovery process and time may be different for everyone, but as a general guideline, plan to be in the hospital for about five to six days following your surgery. After your surgery, you will be given a list of daily goals containing what you can hopefully accomplish each day.

These post-operation daily goals include progress in these six categories:

  • diet
  • medications
  • breathing
  • IVs/tubes
  • activity
  • wound care

After your few days in the hospital, you will spend about four to six weeks doing very light activity and a lot of resting. In order for the breastbone (sternum) to heal, there is a ten pound weight restriction for six weeks. Because of medication you may be prescribed, you will not be allowed to drive until directed by your physician or nurse. You and your care team will decide when the best time to go back to work is, and that may also depend on your employer’s flexibility and job functions.

After you go home, you won’t have to worry about recovering on your own. A nurse will check in on you by phone to document your progress. You will receive regular phone calls to follow your recovery process at home. The nurse will ask the same questions each time to examine how you are improving. You will also be given the opportunity to bring up any questions or concerns you have with the recovery process.

At Altru
Altru offers pre and post-surgical care and coordination to assist patients in getting back to their everyday lives. Altru also offers cardiac rehabilitation which includes treatment, monitoring, and lifestyle change. These steps combine exercise with education and risk factor modification. If your recovery is going well, rehab may not be needed after surgery. If you do not need cardiac rehabilitation, but still need some assistance at home, a home care option may be available for you.

If you have a concern about your heart, schedule an appointment by calling 701.780.6236. Our team will help you understand your care, and ensure you are comfortable through everything from screening to surgery. Learn more about what we offer at altru.org/heart.

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