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Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery: Recovering in the Hospital

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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 output.
  • Restricting the amount of salt in your diet.
  • Giving you medicines (diuretics) that help your kidneys remove extra water from your body.


Before you can leave the hospital, you must be able to eat and digest your meals. Although at first you may not be hungry enough to eat much food, you will need to get all the energy that the food provides as you become more active in the days following your CABG surgery. It is important that you eat meals that are low in salt (which helps you to get rid of extra water) and low in fat (which helps prevent plaque from forming on your new bypass grafts or the healthy portions of your coronary arteries).

Anesthesia and appetite

Along with putting you to sleep during surgery, anesthesia has several side effects. Two of the most unpleasant side effects are nausea and constipation. While nausea will soon wear off, your constipation can leave you uncomfortable for several days after your surgery. Your nurses can give you a medicine to promote bowel movement. However, eating may actually be the most effective means of ending constipation, because food will push waste through your system.


You should also be able to sit up in a chair for at least an hour by the time you leave the hospital. Sitting up is a good way to expand your lungs and help them reach full capacity. Sitting also helps:


You should try to walk about 100 ft (30 m) four times a day. This usually means a trip around the hallway of the cardiac recovery floor. You may need help at first. Walking is especially important because it shows that you are physically able to get around after you leave the hospital. Walking also helps:

  • Expand lung capacity.
  • Increase strength.
  • Improve blood circulation.
  • Alleviate constipation.
  • Prevent pneumonia.
  • Prevent blood clots in your legs.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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