Tips For Post Operative Care Following Cardiac Surgery
Most of the people get very much tense once they hear that they have to undergo bypass surgery. I always explain the patients; modern technology has helped the surgeons as well as the patients for rapid recovery from open heart surgery.
We do understand more about recovering from heart surgery than before. Most people are back to their regular routines time after surgery. Week by week, you should be increasing your strength and activities.
I tell patients all days are not same, sometime you will feel little low and some days will be very fresh. This is regular for all patients recovering from bypass surgery. We are always there to help you during your recovery.
We should know that heart surgery is approached by cutting the breast bone in the center of the chest which takes upto 6 to 8 weeks to heal.
At first, dressing, personal hygiene, reading, writing, visiting, walking and resting should fill your day. Follow the exercise routine that the physical therapist has given you. DO not LIFT heavy objects, Avoid lifting anything over 6 kgs for the first six weeks luggage, furniture etc. Bending is not allowed too. Any movement in the body which creates imbalance on sides of the chest must be avoided as sternum bone will move and you will get pain at your chest incision. Just take your pain killer medicines and you should be fine.
During hospital stay :
You will have good and bad days. You may experience many different feelings that can be due to lack of sleep, decreased blood count, constant activity in your room, the hospital environment with its structured routine, physical discomforts from surgery and unfamiliar faces.
You may experience a period of feeling down or blue, which usually takes place the first few Weeks after surgery. It is normal to have difficulty focusing and concentrating in the first Week or two after surgery
Take shower with gentle soap, no rubbing of the incision.
Remember, gentle daily activity aids healing and speeds recovery! You should plan to walk progressively longer periods each week. If you walk your heart will extract more blood from your bypass grafts. This is particularly true when we use bilateral internal mammary arteries to bypass heart vessels. If you become tired, short of breath or dizzy while stair climbing, sit down on the step and rest for few seconds and then again restart. It is very normal that after bypass surgery you will get fatigued early but you can return to normal work after 2 -3 months after surgery.
Due to the healing of the breastbone, weakness, fatigue and general discomfort, you should not try to drive for at least four to six weeks after your surgery. However, you can be a passenger in a car.
QUIT smoking 6 weeks prior and permanently after bypass surgery:
Bypass surgery is not your license for smoking. Some people ask me the question doctor now you have repaired my heart can I smoke, please quit smoking. Tobacco in any form is dangerous for the health of blood vessels.
Why my appetite is low?
Due to decreased activity and medication, your appetite will be suppressed. We will encourage you to eat as much as you can and supplement your diet with high-calorie shakes. It is important to supply your body with protein-rich foods for wound healing at this time
What can I eat?
I don’t suggest patients to change their dietary habits after surgery. Once you are discharged normal home cooked food with less oil and salt is good for your nutritional requirements.
Medications will be different for different patients and they should follow the medications timing and doses as written on discharge card. Most of these medications will be stopped after few months of bypass surgery. But ecosprin and cholesterol medicines will continue. And of course if you have diabetes and hypertension these medications will also continue for life.
Whenever you are going home after discharge, I advise patients to sit on a back seat of the car. Avoid jerky routes. If you want to travel to long distances, make the journey in less traffic timings and take some breaks during long journeys. There are some warning symptoms that you need to contact to your doctor or hospital like Breathlessness, Severe chest pain not relieved after pain killer medicines, Swollen incision and drainage from incision, here you must contact your doctor and get appropriate treatment.
Inputs by Dr Bipeenchandra Bhamre, Cardio-Thoracic Surgeon at Sir H N Reliance Foundation Hospital and Research Centre