Are you scheduled for a coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) or heart bypass surgery, as it is more commonly referred to, in the immediate future? If so, you should read up on the ABCs of post-operative care to ensure that you know how to look after yourself or ensure you are well-taken care of by your care provider. A heart bypass surgery can be less intimidating when you know what to expect.
Following your surgery, you will be cared for in the ICU for 2-3 days, where your doctors will monitor your vital parameters and provide the necessary support system. When your doctors are satisfied that your recovery is on track, they will move you into a hospital room or ward, where you will stay for another 4-5 days for further monitoring.
During this time, you will be hooked to many wires and tubes that ensure that your vitals are constantly monitored, that your body is intravenously replenished with the necessary nutrients and medications, and that your waste products are excreted to the optimum level.
A heart bypass surgery is a life-altering experience; thus, pain and discomfort are a part of the recovery process. Let your doctor or nurse know if you are in extreme discomfort; they will adjust your pain medication accordingly.
If your recovery follows a typical pattern, you can sit up in a day, walk slowly after three, and climb stairs five or six days after your surgery.
Most people take 12 weeks to recover from a heart bypass surgery completely. However, complications during or after surgery may lengthen this period.
You can keep your recovery schedule on track by following your doctor’s orders to the ‘T’.
Your immediate priority after you get home is to take care of your incisions so that they heal well with no infection and minimal scarring. For the first couple of weeks after surgery, your wounds will be sore, and you may need painkillers to manage the pain. With time and proper care, the wounds will heal and hurt less. Your stitches will dissolve, the soreness will subside, and the scar will slowly fade from a bright red to a lighter skin tone.
Wear loose-fitting clothing to allow your skin to breathe, heal, and avoid rubbing or chafing the wounds. Keep the area clean and well-ventilated to assist quick healing.
The first few weeks will be all about taking it easy. Do not exert yourself in any way that causes pain or undue strain on your wounds. Limit yourself to light activities such as walking slowly, basic cooking, and avoiding heavy lifting.
In about six weeks post-surgery, you can undertake moderate activities such as driving, lifting heavier objects like grocery shopping bags, basic cleaning, etc.
Let your body guide you and listen to its signals. Take frequent breaks and enough rest to help your body heal faster and better. You should be able to return to work in about 6-12 weeks, provided your job does not involve long hours and strenuous activity.
You should know that issues like appetite loss, constipation, muscular pain, wound pain, insomnia, fatigue, mood swings, and depression are quite common after heart bypass surgery.
Focus on what will make you feel better and help you recover faster. Connect with loved ones, invest time in your hobbies, request family members to be with you for the first few weeks, and consider getting at-home nursing care if you feel you need extra support.
Visit your doctor immediately if you experience increasing pain in your wounds, they become red, swollen, or leak blood or pus, and you run a high temperature with chills.
Do not hesitate to call emergency services if you feel unwell, or have chest pains, palpitations, or breathing difficulties.
You will have your post-op checkup scheduled around six weeks after your surgery. Make sure you tell your doctor any persisting symptoms and health concerns and listen carefully and follow further instructions from your doctor.
Most hospitals offer post-operative rehabilitation services that can be very useful in recovery. You will meet others in similar situations and feel a sense of camaraderie with them while taking the opportunity to allow trained healthcare providers to guide you back to normal health and fitness.
A full recovery depends on your fitness before surgery, your age, and the extent of your heart condition. However, do remember that complete recovery is possible after a heart bypass surgery, provided that you follow your doctor’s orders and take care of yourself, as discussed above. Choosing the right facility for your heart bypass surgery is equally important. Max Healthcare Group provides full-spectrum cardiovascular services following your heart bypass surgery, including a comprehensive post-operative care program you can avail of.