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After Heart Surgery-Recovery Tips

Recovering from a heart surgery is as important as the surgical procedure itself. The first phase of heart surgery recovery usually lasts from six to eight weeks and upon getting discharged from the hospital the patient is given a set of instructions on post-surgery care. These typically include directions on what to do for the patient's physical and emotional well-being.

Taking care of the incision after heart surgery

Instructions are given at the hospital prior to the release for the proper care of the incision after heart surgery. These instructions are to:

  • Keep the incision clean and dry.
  • Only soap and water should be used to clean the incision.
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Not apply ointments, oils or salves to the incision unless specifically told to do so.

Consultation with a doctor may be required if

  • There is oozing from the incision.
  • There is opening of the incision line.
  • There is redness or warmth around the incision.
  • The body temperature increases.


A quick shower is usually allowed if your incision is healing and dry. Warm water temperature is considered to be optimum as extreme water temperatures can cause faintness. Regular soap and not perfumed soap is used to clean the incision.

Relief of pain: After heart surgery, patients experience muscle discomfort, itching, tightness, and/or numbness along the incision. However, the pain should not be similar to what was experienced before surgery. Patients should not suffer severe as they did before the surgery.

Driving after Heart Surgery: Patients are usually advised to start driving 6-8 weeks after the surgery and this period is shorter if the surgery was minimally invasive.

Activity After Heart Surgery: Some guidelines are given to the patients to be generally followed during the recovery process:

  • Increase your activity gradually.
  • Don't lift objects that are heavy.
  • Don't push or pull heavy objects.
  • There are no restrictions in climbing stairs unless specifically asked by the doctor not to do it
  • Walk daily.

Diet after Heart Surgery: A healthy diet helps the healing process after heart surgery. It is common to have a poor appetite after the surgery, so the patient is encouraged to eat smaller and regular meals at short intervals.

Emotions After Heart Surgery: It is common to feel sad or blue by a patient after surgery so it is important to do things that will keep them occupied:

  • Walk daily.
  • Resume hobbies and social activities.
  • Share feelings with others.
  • Visit with others.
  • Get a good night's sleep.
  • Enroll in a support group or cardiac rehabilitation program.

Sleep after heart surgery: Patients complain of having trouble sleeping after heart surgery, but normal sleep patterns resumes within a few months. A few simple steps can be followed to improve sleep condition:

  • If in pain take pain medication about half an hour before bedtime
  • Any activity must be balanced with rest when recovering from heart surgery
  • Avoid the intake of caffeine in the evenings
  • It is advised to have a bedtime routine