Open heart surgery is a major operation where new route is created around the blockage for blood and oxygen to reach upper heart. Patient will stay in a hospital for a week or more (depending upon the condition). Patient will be shifted to intensive care unit immediately after the surgery due to the need for monitoring all parameters and the requirement of ventilation support for a few hours.
For the next few days, you will be recovering in the hospital until you are comfortable enough to go home. Your recovery in hospital will include regular lab test, chest-x-rays, monitoring blood pressure, physiotherapy session etc. Urinary catheter will be removed after few days, but you may experience difficulty having a bowel movement due to medications not eating much, and lying in bed.
Once your pain is controlled, temporary tubes removed, you are walking with assistance, all lab tests & chest x-rays are satisfactory, you will get discharge by your surgeon.
Taking care of yourself after the surgery plays an important role in the recovery of the patient. Here are the few tips that can ensure a healthy recovery at home after open heart surgery.
Taking care of your incision – wash your hand before and after touching your incision/wounds. Take daily bath with warm water and apply soap to the wounds. Consult your doctor if you experience any of these:
· Increased drainage from the incision site/gaping of the wound.
· Redness ad warmth around the incision
Why Cold Temperatures are Tough on the Heart
Being in a cold environment causes our bodies to make certain physiological adjustments in order to preserve our core body temperatures. These normal adjustments can present a challenge to people with heart disease. Among other things, cold temperatures cause:
· Your heart rate to increase.
· Your blood pressure to increase.
· Your heart to work substantially harder.
· An increase in the propensity for blood clotting.
Here are few points to be considered during winter:-
· People with weak heart should be particularly careful during winter season.
· Though they should continue to exercise regularly, they should modify their timings, so as to avoid extreme weather.
· Salt & water intake should be reduced as there is no loss to sweating.
· Regularly monitor BP and if detected high, should be properly treated.
· Avoiding infections is another important aspect and before the onset of the season, influenza & pneumonia vaccines should be taken so as to prevent chest infections.
· If symptoms of infections are seen they should be promptly treated with proper use of antibiotics.
· Don’t skip your prescribed medication.
· Don’t skip medicine when you are feeling better
Any side effects should be reported immediately to your treating doctor
Pain management plays an important role in recovery & helps in early ambulation. So it is important that you take it as prescribed by your doctor.
Physiotherapy will help you to regain your mobility after the surgery. Make sure to perform exercises as advised and spend as much time out of bed as possible.
Diet – Eating healthy, nutritious and low fat diet will help you in faster recovery.
Long term care for open heart surgery – recovery after surgery may take up to 6 to 8 weeks. You need to make major lifestyle changes to prevent blocks from developing again. Be physically active, eat low fat & low salt food, avoid junk and fried foods, and keep your blood pressure & cholesterol in control.
There is a book written by our MD Dr. S. S Bansal, Sr. Interventional Cardiologist “All you need to know about heart” , which addresses smallest details about heart disease, do’s & don’ts after bypass surgery & many important aspects of lifestyle modification. The book is freely available online on “Amazon”.