You will recover in the hospital after coronary artery bypass graft
(CABG) surgery until your doctors feel it is safe for you to go home. During
this time, staff on the cardiac recovery floor will help begin your
rehabilitation and educate you on how to care for yourself when you return
home. You must demonstrate that you are capable of performing basic daily
functions, including walking and sitting upright, before your doctor will agree
to release you from the hospital.
On a rainy December day, Stu Bernstein dashed several blocks through
downtown San Francisco in a race to catch the last commuter train home. Shortly
after the train left the station, the project manager broke into a cold sweat.
Then he felt shortness of breath and indigestion-like pain. When pain was
radiating down his left arm, Bernstein realized he was experiencing heart
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the U.S, according to
the CDC. The latest...
The staff on the cardiac recovery floor will assist you in achieving
the criteria that assure them that you will be safe when you go home. Your
family and friends can play important roles in your recovery.
Typical criteria to be released from the hospital include the
You can breathe using your full lung
You are able to eat adequately.
You are able
to walk 100 ft (30 m) to
150 ft (45 m), four times per
Your pain has been controlled so that it does not interfere
with your physical activities.
When you arrive on the cardiac recovery floor, you will have a small
tube just below your nose that supplies oxygen to your lungs. Although it may
be painful, it is important that you try to take deep breaths. Taking deep
breaths is the only way to use your lungs to full capacity. If you fail to take
periodic deep breaths, you are more likely to develop pneumonia.
Flexing your chest wall muscles
You will exercise your chest wall muscles during your recovery with a
machine called an incentive spirometer. This machine requires you to inhale
forcefully through a tube connected to an air column containing a ball or a
similar device. As you breathe inward, the ball within the air column moves up.
How high the ball moves up shows how much air you inhale.
A healthy person who has not had surgery can typically inhale
forcefully through the spirometer until the ball reaches the very top of the
air column. But when you first arrive on the cardiac recovery floor, your lung
capacity may only push the ball halfway up the column. By the end of your
hospital stay, you should regain your full lung capacity. As you use the
spirometer, your nurse or respiratory therapist will also work to improve your
breathing function by asking you to breathe deeply and cough. This action keeps
your lungs moving and increases their capacity.
Eliminating extra fluid weight
Most people who undergo CABG surgery retain large amounts of fluid
after surgery. The majority of this fluid is usually water. Your nurses will
make sure that you are getting rid of the extra fluid by:
Carefully monitoring your fluid intake and
Restricting the amount of salt in your
Giving you medicines (diuretics) that help your kidneys
remove extra water from your body.