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...
It may be
worthwhile to keep all of your medical information together and handy during
your recovery, including:
Self-care instructions. These are 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. This is a list of all the medicines you are prescribed after you leave the hospital.
These medicines might be different from medicines you took before
your CABG surgery.
Contact information. This is 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. This is 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 on 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.
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).
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.
Two activities that can shift the edges of your
sternum apart and so should be avoided are:
Lifting objects heavier than
5 lb (2.3 kg), including small
children, trash baskets, and bikes.
Driving (even a minor car
accident may cause your chest to hit the steering wheel).