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Heart Failure Health Center

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Caregiving After Surgery for Heart Failure

Diet After Surgery for Heart Failure

Encouraging your loved one to eat a healthy diet will help the healing process after heart failure surgery. The doctor will issue special dietary instructions if they are needed. It is common after surgery to have a poor appetite at first. If this is the case, encourage your loved one to try to eat smaller, more frequent meals. Appetite should return within the first few weeks. If it does not, contact the doctor.

Emotions After Surgery for Heart Failure

It is common after heart failure surgery for your loved one to feel sad or blue. These feelings should go away after the first few weeks. If they do not, call the doctor. Caregivers can assist in relieving the emotional blues by encouraging their loved one to:

  • Get dressed every day.
  • Walk daily.
  • Resume hobbies and social activities they enjoy.
  • Share their feelings with others.
  • Spend time with other people.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Join a support group or cardiac rehabilitation program.

Sleep After Surgery for Heart Failure

Many people complain of having trouble sleeping for some time after heart failure surgery. Normal sleep patterns should return within a few months. Call the doctor if lack of sleep begins causing changes in behavior or if normal sleep patterns do not return.

Some tips to improve sleep include:

  • If your loved one is having pain, encourage him or her to take pain medication about half an hour before bedtime. Offer to arrange the pillows so he/she can maintain a comfortable position.
  • Keeping in mind that activity must be balanced with rest during recovery from surgery, encourage your loved one not to take frequent naps during the day.
  • Encourage your loved one to avoid caffeine in the evenings (such as chocolate, coffee, tea, and colas).
  • Encourage getting into a bedtime routine. By follow the same rituals, a person's body learns to know it is time to relax and get to sleep.

What Is "Mended Hearts?"

"Mended Hearts" is a national volunteer support group for heart patients and their loved ones. If your loved one would like to speak to someone who has had heart surgery, contact Mended Hearts: or ask for Mended Hearts at 1-800-AHAUSA1.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on January 16, 2015
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