The first phase of heart surgery recovery can last from six to eight weeks. Upon discharge from the hospital or health care facility, the patient -- and often the caregiver -- will be given a set of instructions on post-surgery care. They typically include tips on what to do for the patient's physical and emotional well being.
I had my first heart attack 26 years ago, when I was 52. I was very active
then, sometimes jogging and often walking long distances. But I was also on the
congressional staff in Washington, and the day leading up to the attack was
even more hectic than usual. My boss was introducing major legislation, and I
had crafted an important floor speech. I didn’t have time for regular meals and
ate a huge cheeseburger for dinner, then smoked three or four cigarettes.
It happened about 3 in the morning...
Call the doctor if signs of infection appear. These signs include:
Increased drainage or oozing from incision.
Opening of the incision line.
Redness or warmth around the incision.
Increased body temperature (greater than 100.4°F or 38°C).
You should also call the doctor if your loved one complains or notices that his or her sternum (breast bone) feels like it moves, or if it pops or cracks with movement.
Pain Relief After Heart Surgery
After heart surgery, some muscle or incision discomfort, itching, tightness, and/or numbness along the incision are normal. However, the pain should not be similar to what was experienced before surgery. Your loved one will be given a prescription for a pain medication before leaving the hospital.
For bypass surgery, there may be more pain in the legs than around the chest incision if saphenous veins (leg veins) were used as grafts. Walking, daily activities, and time will help to lessen leg discomfort and stiffness.
Driving After Heart Surgery
Your loved one's doctor will advise him or her when to resume driving after heart surgery. This usually occurs about 6-8 weeks after surgery -- or shorter if the surgery was minimally invasive. Riding as a passenger is fine.
Activity After Heart Surgery
After heart surgery, the doctor will tell your loved one when he or she is able to return to daily activities. However, for the first 6-8 weeks, the following guidelines are generally recommended for patients recovering from heart surgery:
Gradually increase activity. Household chores can be done, but standing in one place longer than 15 minutes is not recommended.
Don't lift objects that weigh more than 10 pounds.
Don't push or pull heavy objects.
Unless restricted by doctor's orders, climbing stairs is allowed.
Walk daily. The doctor or cardiac rehabilitation specialist will provide guidelines upon the patient's return home.