After Care Tips for Heart Patients
You have survived your heart surgery and you are prepared to go home. Before you leave the hospital, you will receive instructions on how to care for yourself at home. It is very important to follow your doctor’s instructions, and if you have any questions concerning your care, ask your doctor before you leave the hospital.
When you return home, there are many procedures you will have to follow in order to obtain your complete healing and recovery.
Caring for Your Incision
Always keep your incision(s) clean and dry by washing it daily with mild soap and water only. Rub your incision gently and do not use a washcloth until the scab is gone and the skin is healed. Never apply salve, lotion, or ointment to your incision unless the doctor prescribes it. Dressings will not be needed on your incision unless there is drainage. If you are having numbness or itching around your incision, don’t worry, this is normal.
If your surgery involved having a leg incision, you should avoid crossing your legs and sitting or standing in the same position for a long period of time. Keep your legs elevated when sitting or lying. If you are experiencing swelling, your doctor might prescribe elastic stockings for you to wear. Always remove them before you go to bed and wash them with mild soap and water.
Your incision should be checked everyday for increased tenderness, redness, swelling, and drainage. If you should develop any of these symptoms or have a persistent fever, notify your doctor immediately.
Medication for Your Recovery
Your doctor will probably prescribe pain medicine or other medication for you to take after going home from the hospital. If you have any questions concerning your medication, ask your doctor before leaving the hospital. Always take the medication prescribed according to his instructions. Don’t miss any doses of your medication and always stay on your prescribed schedule.
Taking your medication as prescribed is a very important step in the healing and recovery process after your surgery. Don’t take medications that your doctor has not prescribed and always let your doctor know if your pain medicine is not working or if you are feeling tired and drowsy.
Sleeping after Heart Surgery
You might experience a lot of discomfort and stress after your heart surgery, and this can lead to insomnia (not being able to sleep). Other factors that might be involved in your lack of sleep are the affects of anesthesia and changes in your daily routine.
If you are unable to sleep because of pain, take your pain medication one half hour before your bedtime. Use your pillows to get in a comfortable position to help relax your muscles. Relieve your stress by listening to soothing music or by taking a relaxing shower. Avoid a lot of napping during the day and caffeine during the evening.
Two or three weeks after your surgery, your normal sleep habits should return. If you are still unable to sleep, and this is causing a problem, then call your doctor.
Activity for Heart Surgery Patients
Your activity during your six-to-eight week recovery will be somewhat limited, but your doctor will give you guidelines to follow during this time.
When you feel up to it, do the activities first that you want to do the most. Start your activity off slow and gradually increase the pace. Be sure to rest between each activity. If the activity causes you pain, stop immediately.
Also, check with your doctor about an exercise that is safe for you. Proper exercise will help in your healing and recovery, help maintain your weight, and lower your stress.
Don’t lift, pull, or push any object weighing more than ten pounds. You can climb stairs if the doctor says this is okay, but walk slow and be careful.
You should not drive for three to four weeks after your surgery because your incision will still be healing and you do not want to puncture or tear it. Do not drive while you are taking pain pills because your reflexes will be slowed down, and this might cause you to have an accident.
Your doctor’s decision on when you should return to work will be based on the type of work you do and the energy level you have. Your doctor might recommend that you work half days for a couple of weeks.
Caring for a Family Member after Heart Surgery
When a member of your family has heart surgery, it affects the whole family. You and your family are not only concerned with the physical recovery of your loved one, but also the emotional affect the surgery might have on them. Changing your family’s lifestyle can be dramatic, but it is an important step in the healing and recovery of your loved one.
Your family member’s activities will be limited after heart surgery, so offering your help will give them the support they need. You can help them by doing their daily chores for them, preparing healthy meals, driving them to their doctor’s appointments, and organizing their medicine.
Performing daily activities for your family member is very important, but encouraging them every day will give them the emotional support they need for healing and recovery.
Heart disease is the number one killer, but there are many steps you can take to prevent and manage heart disease. So if you or someone you love has heart disease, take that extra step and live a long, healthy life.
In these ten reports about heart disease you have learned symptoms of a heart attack, tips on how you can help a person who is having a heart emergency, ways you can reduce your risk of a heart attack, and what you need to do after heart surgery for healing and recovery. Also, you’ve learned how exercise and nutrition are important factors for you to maintain a healthy heart.