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    Caregiving After Surgery for Heart Failure

    Diet After Surgery

    A healthy diet will help the healing process. The doctor will issue special instructions if needed. A poor appetite is common after surgery at first. If this is the case, encourage your loved one to try to eat smaller, more frequent meals. If they still don’t want much food after a few weeks, reach out to the doctor.

    Emotions After Surgery

    It’s common after heart failure surgery for your loved one to feel sad. These feelings should go away after the first few weeks. If they don’t, call the doctor.

    You can help by encouraging them to:

    • Get dressed every day.
    • Walk daily.
    • Do 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

    Many people have trouble sleeping for a while after heart failure surgery. Normal sleep patterns should return within a few months. If not, or if lack of sleep brings changes in behavior, call the doctor.

    Some things can help:

    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 or 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 at night (such as chocolate, coffee, tea, and colas).

    Have them get into a bedtime routine. By following the same rituals, his or her body learns to know it is time to relax and go 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, go to their website at or ask for Mended Hearts at 800-AHAUSA1.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on June 13, 2016
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