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Like any major operation, a heart operation places stress on your entire body. You are going to feel more tired than usual and be unsure about what you can do and when you can do it.​​

At first, your recovery may seem slow. Some days will be better than others. Increase your activity level slowly. Listen to your body and use common sense. Your recovery time will depend on your age, your general level of health, your activity level before the operation, and your progress after the operation.

Do not lift more than 15 pounds before your first follow-up appointment with your surgeon.

Do not drive for 6 weeks after your surgery.

 
How do I care for my incisions?

Avoid direct sunlight on your healing incision (and later the scar). Four to six weeks after your incision is well healed, you can use sunscreen to protect the scar tissue.

Women should wear a good support bra, without wires, because if helps prevent pulling on the incision and helps lessen discomfort. If your bra irritates your incision, put some gauze over the affected area.

Call your surgeon's office if your incision is red, warm to the touch or has discharge or a bad smelling odour.

How can I manage my medications?

The medications that you will be taking when you go home will depend upon the type of operation you had and your medical conditions. Some of the medications you were taking before your operation may be stopped and new medications may be added.

You should know the following about each medication:

  • What it is for
  • How much to take
  • When to take it
  • How long to take it
  • What side effects to watch for
  • What to do if side effects occur

If you are started on Warfarin (Coumadin ®) while in hospital, please make sure that you or a family member attends the Warfarin education class before being discharged from hospital.

Unless you are told otherwise, you will be taking your medications until your first check up with your family doctor and/or cardiologist. At this appointment, your family doctor/cardiologist will tell you which medications you will continue to take.

Important medication tips:
  • Take your medications as directed by your health care provider.
  • Keep an up-to-date list of your medications (including the medication name, dose, and time of day taken) with you at all times. Or, bring all of your medications in their original containers (labelled with the medication name, dose and time of day taken) to all medical appointments.
  • Always check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking new prescription medications, non-prescription medications, and herbal or vitamin products.
  • If you forget to take your medication, do not make up for it the next time by taking two. Just skip the dose and take your medication at the next scheduled time.
  • Return old or outdated medications to your pharmacy for safe disposal.
  • Report any rash, fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, yellowing of the skin or severe bruising to your doctor, as these may be side effects of a medication you are taking.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Who do I call if I experience complications? 

Call 911 to take you to the nearest Emergency Department if you:​​

  • Have chest pain, tightness, or shortness of breath
  • Have "the worst headache of your life" that does not go away by taking pain medication

Call your surgeon's office  if you notice the following symptoms:​​​

  • Your incision is red, warm to the touch or has discharge or a bad smelling odour
  • You have a fever (a temperature of 38°Celsius or higher for 2 days)
  • You have pain that is not relieved by your pain medication
  • You have a sharp pain or tenderness in the back of your calf or numbness and tingling to your foot

Who do I call with general post-operative questions?
  • ​Your surgeon's office is the first place to call with general post-operative questions.

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To make or change appointments, call your surgeon's office.

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