Heart Surgery Recovery

Depend on the knowledgeable professionals at Adventist HealthCare to give you the services and support you need after heart or vascular surgery – so you can focus on healing.

After Surgery

You may go to the surgical recovery room or Intensive Care Unit (ICU) where your medical team will watch you closely. Your friends or family can visit while you’re in recovery. You may stay overnight or be transferred to another unit.

You may have tubes or wires that connect to your body so your care team can monitor your progress. Your doctor may order certain tests, such as:

  • Blood pressure monitoring
  • Blood sampling
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG)

Breathing Tube Care

You may have a breathing tube in your mouth when you wake up from surgery. This may feel uncomfortable, but it will be removed when you’re awake enough to cough and deeply breathe, which usually takes between one and six hours. Your nurses will help you communicate.

Once the tube is out, you’ll cough and do breathing exercises. This can help prevent problems like pneumonia. You may be able to swallow liquids, and your doctor will let you know when you can start eating solid foods.

What to Expect

After surgery, you may feel sore and tired. Tell your nurses if you have pain, and you’ll receive medication to help. Depending on the type of procedure, your stay at the hospital may last from three to seven days.

Take Care of Yourself After Surgery

It may take six to eight weeks before you can return to your normal activities. Your care team will give you recommendations about:

  • Activity and exercise
  • Diet and nutrition
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Medications
  • Scheduling follow-up appointments

Follow your doctor’s recommendations to manage any other health conditions you have, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

When to Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor if you have:

  • Chest pain
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Fever
  • Redness, swelling or drainage from an incision

Ask your doctor about other symptoms to watch for and when to seek medical care.

Recovery at Home

Help your body heal by following these guidelines:

  • Avoid heavy lifting of objects that weigh more than 10 pounds, pushing or pulling heaving objects or working with your arms held over your head.
  • Avoid straining to have a bowel movement.
  • Don’t drive a car for four to six weeks after surgery.
  • Rest often.
  • Take warm showers but avoid baths and hot water for four to six weeks to prevent dizziness.
  • Wear support stockings, if needed.

You may consider home health care services, including skilled nursing services and homemaking assistance.

Physical Activity

Walk for exercise. Start slowly and go longer distances as you recover. Ask your doctor when it’s safe for you to do other activities.

Heart Rehabilitation Services

Take part in cardiac rehabilitation, an exercise and counseling program in a group setting to improve your heart health.

Follow-Up Care

Go to all of your appointments with your doctor and bring a list of any questions. You may want to ask:

  • What activities are safe for me?
  • When can I go back to work?
  • When can I have sex?
  • When can I drive a car?
  • When can I travel?

Talk to your doctors about lifestyle choices that can prevent future heart problems and improve your quality of life, such as not smoking, reaching a healthy weight, eating a heart-healthy diet and being active.

Find a Doctor

Find an Adventist HealthCare affiliated cardiologist by calling our FREE physician referral service at 800-642-0101 or by searching our online physician directory.

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