Open Heart Surgery

After surgery

Before you leave the Hospital, you will have an exit interview with the cardiologist, the ward doctor or a nurse practitioner. If you have any questions you can ask them during the interview.

Home again

Each patient recovers from the heart surgery at his or her own pace. It depends on the severity of the procedure and on your medical condition prior to the surgery.

When you are released from the Hospital your wound will already be closed but still vulnerable. After the surgery, you will probably experience muscle pain in your neck, back, chest and around your shoulders. This is normal after cardiac surgery because during the operation the edges of the sternum were pushed open to reach the heart. The muscle pain will gradually reduce but it can take up to 8 weeks.

It is important that you keep calm during the first weeks at home since your sternum is not yet properly healed. Listen to your body and stay aware of what you can or cannot physically handle.

Resuming daily activity

During the first 6 weeks you will not be allowed to lift heavy things or apply force so beware not to overdo home activities such as vacuuming, lifting groceries, mowing the lawn, etc. If there is no one that can take over this work you should arrange for homecare in advance. It is recommended not to be alone during the first 7 days after surgery.

When should you contact your GP?

When you were in the hospital you probably stayed in the Intensive Care/Medium Care (IC/MC) ward. Many things happened to you during this period. This might cause physical as well as psychological symptoms to arise which can sometimes last a while.

For example:

  • Sleep problems
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Poor physical condition
  • Decreased appetite

In these cases, consult your GP.

During the first weeks of your recovery you need to keep your weight and temperature monitored. We recommend that you call your doctor if:

  • You have a fever of 38.0°C or more for at least two days
  • You gain weight (half a kilo or more per day)
  • You suffer from shortness of breath or dizziness
  • You suffer from an irregular and rapid heartbeat

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