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Heart Disease Health Center

Recovery After Heart Surgery

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Diet After Heart Surgery

Encouraging the patient to eat a healthy diet will help the healing process after heart surgery. When you leave the hospital, 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, the patient should be encouraged 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 Heart Surgery

It is common after heart surgery surgery for patients 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 patients in relieving the emotional blues by encouraging them to:

  • Get dressed every day.
  • Walk daily.
  • Resume hobbies and social activities they enjoy.
  • Share their feelings with others.
  • Visit with others. Limit visits to 15 minutes at first. Then increase them depending on how they feel.
  • Get a good night's sleep.
  • Join a support group or cardiac rehabilitation program.

Sleep After Heart Surgery

Many people complain of having trouble sleeping for some time after heart 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 help with sleep include:

  • If the patient is having pain, encourage him to take pain medication about half an hour before bedtime. Offer to arrange the pillows so he can maintain a comfortable position.
  • Keeping in mind that activity must be balanced with rest during recovery from heart surgery, encourage the patient not to take frequent naps during the day.
  • Encourage the patient to avoid caffeine in the evenings (such as chocolate, coffee, tea, and colas).
  • Suggest listening to relaxing music.
  • Encourage getting into a bedtime routine. By following 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 the patient would like to speak to someone who has had heart surgery, contact Mended Hearts.

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on September 20, 2014
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