Heart Bypass Recovery

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Heart Bypass Recovery – What to Do After Surgery

All types of major surgeries will often involve risks, as it is not easy to just cut open the body and perform something in it. The human body is as complex as life itself. And in each attempt of humans to touch it in order to save it, it often gives a reaction, and the hopeful patient should just hope and pray that it’s a positive one.

What is a heart bypass?

A heart bypass is a surgical operation that involves creating a new route for the blood to pass so that it can supply the heart with oxygen because the current coronary arteries have a blockage or other problem. Another name for a heart bypass is CABG or Coronay Artery Bypass Graft. Usually, the greater saphenous vein, located in the leg, is the blood vessel used to create the alternative route for the blood. This surgery is the treatment of choice for most Coronary Artery Diseases. Since a heart bypass is a major surgery, heart bypass recovery period is often a critical one; it involves strict compliance to medications and to other adjunct therapies.

What happens during surgery?

The procedure for a heart bypass is a strict and meticulous one, as it involves one of the most important organs of the body. Before the surgery, the patient is prepared through the giving of medications and medical advice.

In the intra-operative period, the induction of anesthesia is started. Then a machine, called as the bypass pump is hooked up to the body to temporarily perform the function of the heart. In a more simplified manner, the surgeons will get another vein or artery from other parts of the body (usually the saphenous vein is used, although the internal mammary artery and the radial artery are also good grafts) to be used as the graft. The graft will then be sewed from one end of an unblocked artery into the end of another, bypassing the blocked part of the coronary artery.

The surgery may last for about 6 to 8 hours. After the surgery, the patient is brought back to the recovery room. Vital signs are checked and health professionals are in careful watch for possible complications. The heart bypass recovery period starts immediately upon the transfer of the patient into the recovery room and then up to six months of a cardiac rehabilitation program is incorporated, depending on the body’s response.

Heart bypass recovery

Most patients are worried about exactly what they should do after the surgery. The principle to follow is very simple – rest and prevent complications. The heart bypass recovery period is the time for the body to regain its pre-surgery strength as the surgery itself has rendered most bodily functions to become weak and susceptible to illness. After the surgery, the body is also adjusting to the changes that were required, and this also may take some time. That is why, it is important for patients to follow their doctor’s advice, and the health teachings of the hospital staff. Here are a few important things that one should remember to have a quick and successful heart bypass recovery:

Watch out for abnormal signs – usually, after the anesthesia has waned down, pain is a normal symptom. The doctor should have issued an analgesic for this. Furthermore, there can be the presence of a slight fever. But in the presence of anything which is above normal such as palpitations, fever exceeding 100.4º F, bleeding, difficulty of breathing and severe pain; will draw the attention of the nurse for further assessment.

Prevent complications – one of the major complications after the surgery is pneumonia. One can prevent this from happening by doing deep breathing and coughing exercises, ambulating early, and by using incentive spirometery.

Nutrition – eating the right kinds of food can do a lot in assisting one’s recovery. The first few hours after the surgery would usually require one not to eat or drink anything (nothing by mouth), but as the anesthesia is subsiding and the normal bowel movements of the body is slowly catching up, one would be advised to begin with clear liquids, advancing further into a soft diet and finally into the normal routine. However, do not eat too at once for a few weeks as this can affect the workload of the heart. Since the goal of the heart bypass recovery period is to let the heart rest, small, frequent feedings are advised. Of course your doctor will supply you with diet instructions.

Follow the medication regimen – the medicines that the doctor has prescribed have specific functions for the recovery of the body. That is why, it is important for one to follow the right drug, with the right dosage at the right time.

Sexual activity – the rest period from sexual intercourse after a major heart surgery is usually a span of six months, on average. Avoiding any sexual activity within this given time is highly important.

Quit smoking – smoking is found to be detrimental to one’s health. The chemicals found in cigarettes have a direct effect to the body’s blood vessels, making them constrict and as an effect it can increase one’s blood pressure.

Rest the heart – since the heart has undergone some major changes, especially pertaining to its arteries, it is important for one to keep his or her activities at the minimum. Cardiac exercises can be done but not to exhaust the heart. In the immediate recovery period, it is most important to have a complete bed rest. A complete bed rest reduces the oxygen demand of the body and therefore, this also decreases the workload of the heart.

Follow-up care – it is important to return to the doctor on the arranged date.

During the heart bypass recovery stage, one should be both cooperative and optimistic. Cooperation with one’s health care professionals is necessary to ensure that the rehabilitation is successful. On the other hand, a post-surgery patient should also be optimistic that he or she will be as healthy as before.

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