6 things to know if you have a heart surgery

6 things to know if you have a heart surgery

Having heart surgery can have a strong impact on your health.

Your pre-surgical preparation and post-surgical care are both important for a good recovery and health outcome.

Marry C. Passow, RN, BSN, a clinical care coordinator in Adult Cardiac Surgery at Michigan Medicine, suggests that all patients need to know 6 important things about their surgery:

Previous eating habits may change

Many patients may notice that they’ve lost their appetite o they just feel too tired to eat. This is common, and the appetite will soon be back to normal.

Patients can try to eat frequent, small meals throughout the day. They need proper nutrition to enable the body to heal and get stronger.

A healthy diet for patients after heart surgery is low in fat, cholesterol and sodium and high in protein. Good sources of protein include fish, eggs, dairy, beans, and nuts.

Patients need to limit the amount of salt to 2,000 milligrams a day. Foods known to be high in salt include restaurant food, soups, pizza, bacon, and other processed meats.

There may be sleep issues

Many people complain of having sleep loss for some time after heart surgery.

It is possible to experience insomnia due to the effects of anesthesia, discomfort related to healing, changes in your daily routine, and stress from personal concerns.

But normal sleeping patterns typically can return in two to three weeks.

Until then, patients can try to take enough rest breaks in between normal daily activities but avoid a daytime nap longer than 20 minutes.

They can also take pain medication about 30 minutes before bedtime to manage pain.

Other tips include:

Avoid caffeine in the evenings;

Listen to relaxing music or a guided imagery audio program;

Talk to your spouse, partner or a trusted friend if you feel anxious or nervous;

Ask your partner to give you a back rub;

Take a relaxing shower; and

Follow a bedtime routine to let your body know it’s time to relax and get to sleep.

Proper pain management is important

Post-surgical pain is unavoidable but can be managed in many ways.

Doctors can prescribe no more than a seven-day supply of opioids to patients at the time of their hospital discharge.

It is important to wean yourself off opioids as soon as possible is important.

Other options for pain management include:

Oral and topical analgesics such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and Salonpas patches;

Applying a warm cloth to the area, using caution near the incision; and

Relaxation techniques such as meditation and guided imagery.

There may be mood swings

Recovering from heart surgery uses emotional and physical energy.

It is normal if you feel upset or emotional in the weeks after your operation. Many patients report these feelings up to three months after the operation.

Patients may have mood swings that include depression, fear, anxiety, loneliness, helplessness, and anger;

Crying easily for no apparent reason;

Lack of energy or motivation;

Getting easily frustrated;

Inability to concentrate;

Having good days and bad days; and

Feeling more emotional or sentimental than normal.

The researcher suggests that it’s important to follow guidelines for good self-care:

Get dressed every day;

Walk daily within your limits;

Get plenty of rest;

Resume hobbies and social activities you enjoy;

Visit with others; and

Join a support group.

Most surgery-related sensations are normal

It is normal that during the first few months after surgery patients experience numbness, tingling or even hypersensitivity around the chest incision.

Some patients may experience this only when wearing tight or constrictive clothing.

These sensations are related to the normal healing process of the small nerves that were severed during the surgery.

As these nerves regenerate, they become hypersensitive and cause these symptoms.

But if patients feel any exertion-related chest pain or pressure, they should consult their doctors immediately.

Driving may be limited after surgery

Many patients can often resume driving about four weeks after surgery. But it depends on the patient’s health condition.

If they can sit in their car and easily turn the wheel to the left and right and use the gas and brake pedals without hesitation after four weeks of recovery time, they may be ready to drive.