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Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery: Self-Care for Recovery - Topic Overview

Some tips for exercising after CABG

Work with your doctor and rehab specialist to develop a rehab plan. The following is a general guideline for increasing your exercise:

  • Take several walks each day. Spread the walks throughout your day.
  • Don't overdo it: Stop and rest if you get tired.
  • Gradually increase the distance and duration of your walks. Add one city block to your walk each week.
  • Do not walk by yourself.
  • Take stairs at a slow pace.
  • Don't pull on the banisters with your arms to avoid straining the surgery site.
  • Don't do too much all at once.

Although you may be weak, tired, or experiencing chest soreness as a result of your surgery, many people with coronary artery disease (CAD) can work their way back up to normal activity levels by participating in a structured cardiac rehab program or by working with their doctors to develop a home exercise program.

Making changes in your lifestyle

Your doctor probably told you that certain aspects of your lifestyle (such as smoking, an unhealthy diet, or high stress) make your cardiac health worse. Now that you have had your diseased arteries repaired with open-heart surgery, you want to be sure that your CAD does not get worse. In particular, it is important to keep your new bypass grafts healthy. Your doctors, nurses, or rehabilitation team members can help you take steps to quit smoking, start eating a heart-healthy diet, and reduce the stress in your life.

Resuming sexual activity

You will be able to resume sexual activity after you recover from surgery. Most people wait about 6 or 8 weeks after surgery.

Some people are afraid to resume sexual activity after a heart attack. They are worried that they will have symptoms such as chest pain or will not have enough energy for sex. They also worry about having another heart attack.

The risk of having a heart attack during sex is low. Sex is the cause of less than 1 out of 100 heart attacks.1 This risk is low if you can do moderate activity without having angina symptoms such as chest pain.

You can ask your doctor to help you know when your body is healed and healthy enough for sex. If you need help dealing with feelings of worry or fear, you can also try professional counseling.

When you and your partner decide to start having sex again, it might be helpful to keep in mind the following:

  • Talk honestly to your partner about your concerns and feelings.
  • Choose a time when you are relaxed and comfortable in a place that will be free from interruptions.
  • Wait 1 to 3 hours after eating a full meal so that digestion can take place.
  • Be aware that anxiety on the part of either partner may interfere with sexual arousal and performance. Talk with your doctor about any concerns.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 20, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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