What Does Heart Surgery Involve?

After Heart Surgery

Following surgery you will be transferred to the cardiac ICU where you will still be having a breathing tube down your throat.

The intensive care team will be assessing parameters like your heart rate and rhythm, blood pressure, chest tube drainage.

In addition a few blood tests will be performed to gain information about the function of various organ systems like the lungs, kidneys and the liver.

The anesthesia medications will then be gradually weaned to wake you up and when awake and able to breathe on your own you will be taken off the ventilator (extubated).

Following extubation you will be encouraged to breathe deeply and cough – a spirometer will be provided – this gives a visual estimate of the intensity of respiratory effort. A good respiratory effort is essential to prevent the complications of lung collapse, pneumonia and fluid build up around the lungs (effusion).

You will be gradually mobilized onto a chair and then asked to ambulate. This is paramount to avoid blood clots in the legs and make a early recovery.

When satisfied most of the monitoring lines and the urinary catheter will be removed and you will be transferred out to your room from the ICU.

Discharge from hospital:

The surgical team will titrate your various medications for blood pressure, heart rate and rhythm, pain. There may be various other medications for diabetes, cholesterol and antiplatelet therapy as well as anticoagulants depending on the disease.

Your vitals and oxygen level on room air will be monitored as well as the ability to carry out regular activities to evaluate functional status.

Chest tubes, pacing wires will be removed; a chest X-ray and echo will be performed prior to discharge.

After discharge:

Your surgeon will arrange for follow up visits at regular intervals to evaluate the recovery process and monitor your surgical incision sites.

If you have undergone a sternotomy

  • Avoid driving for 1 month and lifting and pulling heavy weights for atleast 2 months.
  • All patients who have undergone surgery are encouraged
  • To be active at home and engage in moderate physical activity like walking
  • Have a shower with soap and water. Keep the incision dry after the same.
  • Keep blood sugars under control and monitor your incision.
  • Report back to the surgeon if there is swelling, discharge, redness or pain in the wound associated with fever at any point of time. Wound infection if left untreated can lead to sternal osteomyelitis which can be difficult to treat.
Tags: Recovering after Heart surgery – Patient Guide