Open Heart Surgery Recovery

Recovery Time in the Hospital

Based on the results of your daily tests, physical exam, and your reported feelings, your doctor will determine when you will be transferred out of the intensive care unit to another special hospital room. Generally, this room will be in a section of the hospital devoted to patients with heart problems. Here you will continue your recovery from open heart surgery and will be monitored for several more days, but not as "intensively."
 
Your family will be able to visit with you in your room.
 
Remember that your healthcare team wants you to recover without any problems. So be sure to report anything that does not feel normal or "right" after open heart surgery.
 

Recovery After Leaving the Hospital

When you leave the hospital to continue recovering from open heart surgery, you will be given specific wound-care, dietary, and rehabilitation instructions, along with discharge instructions for driving, activity level, medication, and any further restrictions necessary. Your healthcare providers will also go over any symptoms that require immediate medical attention.
 
You will be given pain medication, blood-thinning medication, possibly antibiotics, and any medicines you were taking prior to the surgery. You may also be placed on medication, such as a beta blocker, to help your heart's electrical system work more effectively, to control your blood pressure, and to reduce the stresses and strains on your heart.
 
It is also important that you plan on being driven home with the help of a relative or friend. You should not drive until you have had your first follow-up visit with your doctor.
 
You should also not perform any lifting greater than 10 pounds for at least four weeks, nor should you participate in any strenuous physical exercises or activities during this time period. Your healthcare team will establish a specific cardiac rehabilitation program for you. This program will begin once you have completely recovered from open heart surgery.
 
The first follow-up visit with your doctor will be approximately three to four weeks after you leave the hospital, with continued periodic visits until you have fully recovered. However, you may have follow-up visits with your cardiologist earlier than this.
 
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