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Recovering after Heart Surgery

After a heart surgery the first stop is The Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Patients usually wake up a few hours after the operation, but may feel tired or disoriented for a day or two. During the early part of the recovery, a ventilator is used to help the patient breathe and it also makes sure that the blood gets the right amount of oxygen.

A tube called the endotracheal tube is placed in the throat which is left in until the patient is able to breathe on his own, usually the night after surgery. Tubes are also placed into the chest and the bladder, as well as the veins and heart and most of them are removed during the first day. Intravenous tubes are placed through which medications are given to the patients.

Postoperative Recovery: At the end of the day after surgery, patients are taken off the respirator, and most of the tubes are removed. Patients in most cases are able to sit on the edge of the bed and even walk a few steps and if the condition is stable, the patient is moved to the ECG monitored area. In the monitored area a system constantly tracks and measures the heart function. Many patients have irregular heartbeat after the surgery, which usually requires treatment with drugs for about six weeks.

Walking after surgery: Walking is one of the most important steps to recovery. It is advised to be out of bed as much as possible, as the more you walk, the sooner you will recover.

Final days of stay at the hospital: After two days in the monitored section, if the patient is eating well and is able to go to the bathroom then he is transferred to the non-monitored area. Just before transfer the temporary pacing wires from the chest that were placed during surgery is removed. The stay in the non-monitored section of the hospital will help the patient to gain more strength and improve appetite and most patients stay between two and four days.

Throughout the hospital stay, the patient is given information to his support recovery. Information usually covers exercise, diet and general activities after surgery. Lifestyle choices after the operation determine the quality of life and perhaps its length. Patients are usually discharged after five to seven days and are given prescriptions to take home, plus information on other pills that will be needed, such as aspirin to help prevent blood clots, iron tablets, and vitamins. It is common to gain some weight as fluid collects in the tissues after surgery. The patients are also given instructions about how to take care of the incisions made during the surgery.