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Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery: Recovering in the Hospital

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Eating

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.

Sitting

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:

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

Walking

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.

Ready or not?

You may meet most of the criteria to go home but may not be able to do certain things well enough to go home. In this case, you may go to a type of assisted-living facility instead of to your home. Nurses and rehabilitation specialists at an assisted-living facility can help you work toward getting home.

Support during your recovery

During recovery, the hospital staff can help you a great deal. You will need to move around despite your incisions and to breathe deeply despite chest pain.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 06, 2012
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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