Open heart surgery is the most common type of heart surgery performed on adults and involves attaching a healthy artery to a blocked artery. The surgery can take up to six hours and many patients stay in the hospital for up to a week after the procedure is done. Like any other major surgery, open heart surgery comes with risk, but it can potentially save lives.
When Is Open Heart Surgery Needed?
Open heart surgery is considered a major surgery, so it is only performed in extreme cases. This surgery is mainly performed on individuals with coronary heart disease. People with this heart condition have hardened arteries, which makes it difficult for blood to flow to the heart. When blood has trouble reaching the heart, a heart attack can occur. Open heart surgery can also be performed to repair damaged areas of the heart, replace a damaged heart and repair heart valves.
How Do You Recover from Open Heart Surgery?
In order to recover fully from open heart surgery, it's important to take good care of yourself when you get home. Here are a few useful recovery tips to follow:
- Treat the Incision Site With Care: One of the most important things you can do after open heart surgery is to take good care of the incision site. Keep the area dry and remember to wash your hands before and after touching it. When you take a shower, make sure the water doesn't directly hit the incision site. Doing this can help prevent infection. Also, periodically check the incision site for signs of infection, like redness, excessive oozing and warmth along the incision line. If your incision site seems abnormal, make an appointment to see your doctor soon.
- Get Enough Rest: If you get enough sleep after your surgery, you can speed up the recovery process. Make sure to get at least eight hours of sleep each night and take naps during the day if you feel tired. To help you fall asleep easier, avoid drinking caffeinated beverages in the evening and do something relaxing before bedtime, such as reading a book or meditating.
- Take Your Pain Medication: It isn't uncommon to feel pain after open heart surgery. Luckily, your doctor can prescribe you pain medication to help ease the discomfort. If you take the medication as directed, you are more likely to recover faster and less likely to deal with complications.