What are my responsibilities during my recovery from bypass surgery?
You have several
responsibilities while you are recovering from coronary artery bypass graft
(CABG) surgery, including:
- Caring for your wounds.
- Taking your
- Monitoring your weight.
- Improving your heart
and lung health.
- Attending cardiac
- Making changes in your lifestyle.
Everyone heals at a different rate. But following your
doctor's orders can help you achieve a fast and comfortable recovery.
Settling in at home
It may be
worthwhile to keep all of your medical information together and handy during
your recovery, including:
- Self-care instructions: instructions from your
medical team about how to care for yourself. You may want to have a folder or
binder to keep this information organized.
- Medicine information:
a list of all the medicines you are prescribed after you leave the hospital.
(Note that these medicines might be different from medicines you took before
your CABG surgery.)
- Contact information: a list of the names and
phone numbers of your primary care physician, cardiologist, and cardiac
surgeon, in case of an emergency. You may also want to keep a calendar with the
dates and times of scheduled follow-up appointments.
information: a card with information on your health insurance coverage in case
you need to return to the hospital. (You may want to keep this in your wallet
in case you are not at home.)
Caring for your wounds
major aspect of your recovery is caring for the incision (sternotomy) made to
open your chest during CABG surgery. Because it is so important that this
incision heals properly, many limitations are placed upon you during your
recovery. You also need to take care of the skin around your arm or leg
incisions. All of your incisions need to be taken care of so that they can heal
quickly and without infection. To do this, you need to:
- Take a warm (not hot) shower every
- Apply an antiseptic, such as povidone-iodine (Betadine, for
example), to your incisions after you shower.
- Inspect your
incisions every day.
- Tell your doctor if you notice excessive pain,
redness, or swelling or if you have a fever.
- Remove the tape from your incisions (it will come
off by itself).
- Take baths.
- Scrub or rub your
- Use lotion or powder on your
- Overexpose your incisions to sunlight.
may cut through your chest bone, or sternum, to perform your CABG surgery.
Unlike other bones in your body, your sternum cannot be placed in a cast while
it heals. Instead, your surgeon wraps heavy wire around it to hold the edges
together. The sternum can heal properly only if the ends are held together
constantly for several weeks. Therefore, you should not engage in strenuous
activities that could shift the two edges apart during the first 4 to 6 weeks
of your recovery.