When a Loved One Has Heart Surgery

Published on November 10, 2020

When a Loved One Has Heart Surgery

heart line in hands

Every day, thousands of heart surgeries are performed across the United States. But for those individuals and their loved ones, that’s much more than a statistic. It’s a time to come together as a family and support one another on the recovery journey ahead.

Love, empathy and encouragement go a long way in heart surgery recovery

Heart surgery is also becoming more effective. Advances in technology and surgical approaches are leading to better outcomes, faster recovery and better quality of life after surgery.

In fact, Steven Boyce, MD, cardiothoracic surgeon at Adventist HealthCare, has a clear perspective on individuals who undergo heart surgery.

“The people who have heart surgery are really the lucky ones,” he explains. “Heart disease is the number one cause of death in our country. We have many effective and innovative treatments – from minimally invasive therapies to open heart surgery.

“When we know about a problem and can fix it, that’s the lucky group,” he finishes.

Dr. Boyce shares his insight for family caregivers to support their loved one’s recovery from heart surgery. It begins with setting a positive attitude.

Be positive

A positive attitude can have a significant impact on your overall health and improve your recovery. Help your loved one stay positive when they do get home – and even when they start to feel frustrated about their recovery:

  • Share gratitude. Take the time every day to name one thing for which you are each grateful.
  • Celebrate accomplishments. Whether it’s sitting up for longer periods of time, walking farther down the street or another milestone, point out how far your loved one has come each day.
  • Look to the future. Plan a fun trip or outing when your loved one is fully recovered.

Keep them moving

Believe it or not, one of the most important steps in recovering from heart surgery is to get moving. While that doesn’t include running a marathon or lifting weights, they do need to be active to help their body heal.

Your loved one’s surgeon and physical therapist will share safe and effective exercises they’ll need to do each day. Your job is to encourage them to do them.

“It’s understandable that you want to hover over your loved ones after something like heart surgery. You want to wrap them up in a blanket by the fire and bring them hot chocolate,” says Dr. Boyce. “But, what they need is motivational love and empathy to get moving.”

Take care of yourself

Supporting a loved one after heart surgery can be overwhelming. It’s important that you take care of yourself so that you can be there for your loved one.

  • Make healthy choices. Eating right, getting plenty of sleep and staying active are important for both you and your loved one to stay upbeat and focused on the positive.
  • Talk with someone. You may not want to share your feelings with your loved one during their recovery. Have another friend, family member or mental health professional you can speak with to help process your feelings and emotions.
  • Stay connected. Make time to talk with family and friends who want to support your loved one on their recovery.

Learn more about the advances in heart surgery available at Adventist HealthCare.

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