ALERT CONTENT PLACEHOLDER

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Tips for coping at home

Recovery from a heart operation is an individual experience. Everyone will recover at their own pace. Your daily routines may be changed for some time. After a heart operation, patients often experience physical sensations or feelings that decrease as they recover. We have listed common feelings and some ideas about that will help.

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In general, you may feel weakness and fatigue, nausea and lack of appetite and may experience poor concentration.​

What to do:​

  • ​Listen to your body. Balance your activities
  • Be patient. Your energy level will improve as your red blood cell level and strength increase.
  • Talk to staff about how you feel.
  • Gradually increase activities.

Don’t:

  • Overexert yourself. Your body will give you signs that you are doing too much.

You may feel a faster heart beat than usual. Occasionally pounding or skipping a beat.​

What to do:

  • Stop and rest if your heart feels as if it is racing and see your family doctor or nurse practitioner.

You may feel discomfort, soreness, and aching in and around your incisions or ribcage, between the shoulder blades, the back of your neck, or your legs or overall stiffness.

What to do:

  • Take pain medication to ease your discomfort. Your walking and other activities will be easier to do if you feel more comfortable.
  • Try to keep good posture.
  • Change positions often (sitting, standing, walking).
  • Make sure you get enough exercise.

Don’t:

  • Lie in one position for too long

You may feel numbness and burning sensations caused by damage to nerves during your operation, slight redness, swelling, or bruising and discoloration along incision lines, swelling or a lump at the top of the chest incision and/or itching, numbness, and burning in and around incisions.

What to do:

  • Watch for signs of infection.
  • Wash incisions with mild soap and water.
  • Use a clean, cool cloth on your incision to help relieve itchiness.

Don’t:

  • Apply creams, ointments, lotions or powder to incisions for the first few weeks.

If you had a bypass, you may experience swelling of your legs, especially the foot and ankle area where the vein was removed. This will improve as the other veins in the leg build up to take over for the one that was removed.

What to do:

  • Elevate your legs above hip level when sitting or lie down to help relieve swelling.
  • Continue your walking program.

Don’t:

  • Cross your legs while sitting.
  • Stand in one position for long periods of time.

You may experience a slight clicking in your breastbone (sternum) when you move or take a deep breath. This feeling will disappear in 4 weeks or so as your breastbone heals.

What to do:

  • Let someone else do heavy or strenuous activities during the recovery period.

Don’t:

  • Lift, carry, push or pull anything over 10 pounds (4.5 kg) for 6 weeks after your operation.

You may experience restless sleep including frequent wakening and stiffness. You may not feel rested.

What to do:

  • Make yourself comfortable with pillows
  • Stay active during the day
  • Take rest periods during the day
  • Take pain medication before you go to bed.

You may experience constipation and abdominal bloating due to your pain medications and the effect of the anesthetic.

What to do:

  • Eat high fibre foods such as fruit and vegetables.
  • Talk to your pharmacist or family doctor if you need a mild laxative.

You may experience tingling or numbness in your ring or little fingers which is caused by stretching of the nerves in the arm when the chest is opened during the operation.

What to do:

  • ​​Move your wrist and fingers normally​
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